Paper checks are going the way of the dinosaur. That’s as true for small business payments as it is for personal finance. It’s easy to understand why. Checks are inconvenient, expensive, and prone to getting lost in the mail (especially if the payee address is out of date).
If you’re still paying with paper, it might be time to bring your business into the 21st century. Let’s look at electronic funds transfer (EFT). Simply put, EFT is sending money from one party to another online. It can be performed with a computer or smartphone, between accounts at the same bank or different institutions, and with several different types of payment systems. All a transfer requires is an account with money, and someone to send it to.
Taking payments digital is great for vendor-client relationships, because payment happens more quickly and is more reliable than paper. It’s also easier—all the rigamarole associated with pulling out a paper check, writing it out, putting it in an envelope, and putting it in the mail is replaced with just a few clicks. It also empowers small business powers to overcome obstacles not possible with paper. For example, if you need to pay a subcontractor based in Canada immediately to get the ball rolling, an EFT facilitates that. Or, if you accidentally run out of an everyday essential, an EFT enables you to pay the vendor, even if you’re away from the office or out of checks.
Here are some of the many types of EFT you might find useful as a small business professional.
Direct deposit/automated clearing house (ACH)
The use most commonly associated with this is payroll. It also can be used to make recurring payments on rent, car loans, and other regular bills. The recipient sees the money land in their account on the appointed date; they don’t have to do anything to accept the cash. The safety of the global makes it popular—in 2018, about 23 billion payments across the world happened on the network. My Small Business Pro uses it both internally and with clients for payrolls and bills. Turnaround is generally 1-4 business days, according to provider and accounts.
This method is popular with friends sending money to each other, independent vendors accepting funds from individuals, and some online vendors. It’s easy to use, but be aware that it might incur additional fees, especially if you’re the payee looking to your money out of PayPal holding.
Commonly used for international payments, wire transfers are liked because of the convenience and speed (payment typically is received within hours). On the other hand, there may be fees to send and/or receive money. What’s more, different countries have different codes, address formatting and additional requirements, and you have to have the other party’s information, so the process can be complicated.
You might be more likely to encounter these methods when you’re dealing with independent contractors, or if you’re sending money to a friend. They’re good because they’re very convenient and the transfer is virtually instantaneous. However, they can be bad if you type one wrong character in the email and send the money to a complete stranger. Let’s hope whoever you sent it to is a good Samaritan..
In one word: don’t. Sure, it’s easy to use, and because Venmo is a popular way to pay back friends and family, people tend to be more familiar with this method than others. However, like QuickPay/Zelle typing one letter can lead to disaster, and this method is not bank insured. Neither makes it great for business payments.
Sending money online can take you outside your comfort zone, especially if you’re on the technologically impaired side. Don’t be afraid—EFT’s ease, security, and convenience makes it worth getting over your fears. MSBP can help. We are happy to explain your options in detail, determine which system works best for you, even set up a system and issue payments on your behalf. Reach out to me at Daliah@MySmallBusinessPro.com and let’s get started.