Freelancers, small businesses, and midsized businesses have a plethora of options to get paid in 2017. The world of payments has evolved quite a bit in recent years, and getting paid is easier than ever for both businesses and customers.
Here are some top options to handle payments for your business in the modern era, and tips for getting started to get paid.
There’s nothing that compares with the value of cold, hard cash. Whether you work in US dollars, Euros, or something else, you know you can take your cash to the bank or the store. However, cash has many downsides when it comes to business payments.
Getting paid in cash when you have a lot of volume can be expensive. Bank fees for depositing cash can add up quickly, and you have to actually go to the bank to make a deposit. Historically, the thought was that cash is king. However, in 2017 cash and cash equivalents are treated equally.
Walking around with suitcases full of cash is cool in the movies, but in real life this kind of cash is typically reserved for those working outside the law. Legitimate businesses that are not in the habit of tax evasion track every dollar that comes and goes, and doing so is much easier when dealing with non-cash payments.
Around 50% of business payments use paper checks for payments, according to data from AvidXChange. Checks are an improvement over cash, as they can be deposited remotely and are easily sent in the mail. However, checks are slow, mail is hardly secure, and incoming funds may be held in some cases. In the age of digital shopping, payments should be digital as well.
Electronic funds transfers
The next evolution in cash is the electronic funds transfer, or EFT. To confuse you with more acronyms, EFTs run through the Federal Reserve Bank’s Automated Clearing House, or ACH. The terms EFT and ACH are often used interchangeably in the banking and payments industries in the United States.
ACH payments are great because they are secure, fast, and simple. The money moves right from one bank account to another. ACH payments can take anywhere from a day to a few days to complete. There there are no trips to the bank or paper checks in the mail to worry about. Once the payment is entered, just sit back, focus on other parts of your business. Wait for the dollars to magically show up in the bank. This is a preferred payment method. Not to mention industry best practice, as it is much cheaper than dealing with cash or paper checks.
Get Paid with Credit cards
Thanks to points, miles, and the ability to pay over time, credit cards are a popular payment method for both businesses and individual consumers. Accepting credit cards used to be an expensive and cumbersome process for businesses. You needed a merchant account, a processing terminal, a dedicated phone line, and had to deal with compliance issues from your bank. It was expensive and a hassle. But now, things are much easier.
For payments on the go, providers like Square make swiping a card using your iOS or Android phone or tablet a piece of cake. Accepting payments online through your site is simple with developer integrations, or you can use a provider like Due.com to handle your online payments via credit card. Your customers use them, so you should accept them. Even if you don’t like the fees, it is part of doing business in 2017.
Some parts of Africa are jumping right from cash to digital wallets, which is leading to great things in financial inclusion. In developed countries, digital wallets are growing in popularity for their convenience, bank-like features, and low cost. The barrier to entry is having a smart phone. The vast majority of adults and many kids walking around with a phone in their pocket. Digital wallets are certain to grow in the future.
Digital wallets allow for payments quickly and securely anywhere in the world. Checks and credit cards can have lengthy processing times, but digital wallet transfers are often instant. The customer pays, the money is in your wallet. Boom. Done. Fast. Secure. What’s not to like?
Make it as easy as possible for the customer to pay
There is one rule in business many owners and managers rarely consider: payments should be as simple as possible for the customer. However they want to pay, be ready to take their money. I’ve walked in and out of restaurants because they didn’t take credit cards. I’ve been ready to put in my order at a food cart and noticed a sign that said, “cash only.” I walked over to the next food cart because they did take the type of payment I wanted to use.
Payments are an important part of your business and an important part of your customer service strategy. If you are handling payments like it’s 2017, it is time to get on board. This is the decade we are going digital. The digital payments revolution is not showing signs of slowing anytime soon.