Most US small businesses shun electronic
payments as their preferred means of payments. Despite this the
majority accept that the trend towards electronic payments is
unstoppable, indicates a survey unveiled at industry body the
National Automated Clearing House Association’s Payments’ (NACHA)
2008 Conference held in Las Vegas in late May.
Undertaken by consultancy Market Platform
Dynamics and commissioned by payments processing service provider
PaySimple, the survey covered more than 500 small businesses with
annual revenues of up to $5 million in a broad range of industries.
Over two-thirds had been in business more than 10 years. More than
half the businesses surveyed reported a typical transaction size of
more than $500.
The survey found that 78 percent of small
businesses prefer paper cash and cheques and for 66 percent paper
cheques are the primary method of payment. About one quarter favour
cash, 28 percent prefer electronic payments and less than half
accept any form of electronic payment. Exceptions are businesses in
the retail and travel sectors where electronic payments are
overwhelmingly preferred.
However, accepting that they must move with
changing customer preferences 70 percent of respondents believe
that within the next two years 50 percent of their payments will be
via electronic methods.
“Businesses want to make it as easy as possible
for their customers to transact with them, and consumers are
demanding more efficient payment options,” PaySimple’s president
Jeff Gardner told NACHA conference attendees. “Electronic payments
are slowly displacing the more traditional payment methods as these
companies react to customer demands and find solutions that are
reasonably cost-effective, flexible, and easy to deploy.”
He added that small businesses are the “back
bone of the US economy” and have generated almost 80 percent of new
jobs in the last 10 years.
Two significant areas in which small businesses
will need to expand their electronic payments capabilities are the
internet and customer billing. The survey found that while 61
percent have an internet presence, only 26 percent accept payments
on their website while an even lower 13 percent generate and send
invoices electronically.
Denver-based PaySimple, which focuses on small
businesses, provides a wide range of electronic transaction
services including billing, automated clearing house direct-debit,
credit card processing, truncated cheque processing and online