Electronic payments, also known as e-payments, encompass all transactions conducted online or electronically. These payments exclude cash and paper checks and are facilitated through methods such as credit and debit cards, ACH, and bank wires.
Benefits of Electronic Payments
Both businesses and their suppliers can reap the benefits of electronic payments and e-payment systems. E-payments offer several advantages in accounts payable, including cost reduction, improved relationships, better payment record-keeping, and enhanced security.
The processing expenses are lower
E-payments significantly reduce processing costs for businesses by eliminating paper and postage expenses. This means no time is spent on printing or mailing checks, resulting in potential cost savings of up to 80%.
Electronic payments are known for their heightened security and reliability compared to traditional checks and cash. Depending on the e-payment system you use, you can track expenses and receive transaction notifications, bolstering your financial security. Additionally, e-payment methods often feature robust authentication processes for enhanced security.
Managing e-payments is considerably more straightforward than tracking traditional check or cash payments. You can easily access your company’s payment history with a few clicks. E-payments also simplify financial metric tracking and overall accounting procedures.
Improved relationships with suppliers
E-payments foster smoother relationships with suppliers. You can set up automatic recurring payments, which prevent potential delays, and the added security and prompt responses contribute to stronger business-to-business relationships.
Different Options for Electronic Payments
Electronic payments have evolved since their introduction as a convenient payment option for bills and goods and services. Today, companies have access to a range of e-payment types:
Money can be transferred between banks using various methods, commonly through direct deposit or, in the US, ACH transfer payments.
The most popular electronic payment method remains credit and debit card payments. This method includes virtual credit cards, offering a high level of security.
Cross-border payments enable businesses to send and receive money globally, involving various methods like bank transfers, forward contracts, and currency exchange transactions.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Electronic Payment Types
It’s unlikely that any business will rely solely on one electronic payment method for their accounts payable, as every business and vendor is unique. Understanding the pros and cons of each type of e-payment is crucial for wise selection:
ACH Debit Pull
Reduced or eliminated fees
Batches may lead to several business days for processing
Fewer disputes compared to credit card payments
Some fraud risk
ACH Credit Push
Suitable for recurring payments and one-time payments
May take several business days to complete
Higher fees compared to other payment methods
Convenient with all necessary information on the card
Minor fraud risk
Easy to use
Reliable for vendors
Some security concerns
Low costs and reduced fees
Challenges in tracking
Not universally accepted by vendors
Secure through payment tokenization
Often come with rewards
Purchasing Card (P-Card)
Fast and convenient
Increased risk of fraud
Quick processing, sometimes same-day for domestic transfers
Potential fraud risk
Accessible to anyone with a bank account
Why Businesses Need E-payments
Businesses that persist with paper checks are missing opportunities for more efficient operations. Here are some reasons your company should consider transitioning to electronic payments:
The true costs associated with check payments, including paper, ink, and postage, can add up. In contrast, ACH transfers and other electronic payments are considerably more cost-effective.
Electronic payments eliminate the complexities of printing, signing, and mailing checks. ACH transfers and virtual cards are two common electronic payment methods, streamlining payment processes.
Electronic payments employ encryption and security features like tokenization, reducing the risk of data breaches and fraud.
How Can Accounts Payable Software Help Businesses with Electronic Payments?
Although e-payments are efficient, they can be tedious and time-consuming when done manually. Accounts payable (AP) software can significantly reduce costs and processing times:
- Avoids late charges: Automation helps ensure that payments are made on time, avoiding late penalties.
- Offers increased visibility: AP automation provides a dashboard for better oversight of payables, making it easier to address delays or discrepancies.
- Improves financial systems’ precision: Fewer errors are found in business operations after implementing AP automation.
- Effortless integration: AP automation seamlessly integrates with financial systems, databases, and ERPs.
- Decreases Fraud: By delegating responsibilities, business owners can closely monitor AP activities, reducing fraud risks.