Moving from Paper Checks to Electronic Payments

There are more ways to take payments than ever. If your small business is still primarily taking payments by cash or check, you may be wondering how to make the shift to card and electronic receivables.

Moving away from paper is a great option to streamline operations, reduce costs and improve security. Even the smallest of businesses can accomplish this through merchant and card services solutions.

To convince paper check loyalists to adopt electronic methods, educate them about the benefits, including:

  • No reliance on the postal service
  • Electronic invoices arrive in their email box, where they can always find them, along with payment confirmation emails following successful transactions
  • Faster processing
  • Better security for them and for you, as account numbers entered by your customers via a secure web interface are encrypted

Remind them that major credit and debit card companies offer additional consumer protections on top of the SSL (secure sockets layer) encryption of the online payment system.

To make this transition easier for you and your customers:

  • Decide whether you want to take debit/credit card transactions, ACH transactions using a bank account and routing number or both.
    • Cards are a familiar payment type, so adoption may be higher than for ACH transactions.
    • If some of your customers don’t use cards, ACH transactions are just as convenient and could be less expensive for you as the merchant.
  • Choose a merchant payment gateway. Your financial advisor may be able to make suggestions of reputable solutions. To ensure encryption, make sure it is Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) compliant.
  • Set up the payment interface and collect email addresses. Your first email should announce the new options for payment and include instructions on how to set up payments. Then you can use the gateway to send invoices and receipts, collecting payments using a secure link generated by the gateway.

Julie Lewis is the merchant card services program manager at Pinnacle Financial Partners in Nashville, TN. She can be reached at 866.381.5524 or 

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