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Five Reasons Why it’s Crazy for Businesses to Write Checks

Author

Robert Unger

Robert Unger

Senior Director, Product Management & Strategic Initiatives

Nacha

Remember the “Jetsons” cartoon when George Jetson took his dog Astro out for a walk on the space treadmill? Yikes! He got sucked up into a never-ending, out-of-control spin cycle, screaming, “Jane, stop this crazy thing!” 

Similarly, many businesses are stuck on the check-writing treadmill. And while the number of B2B checks is falling, the “2019 AFP Electronic Payments Report” found 42% of those payments still involve “pay to the order of.”  

Jane, stop this crazy check thing! Here are five reasons why it’s crazy for businesses to write checks.

1.    Fraudsters love checks more than any other payment type. According to an Association of Financial Professionals survey, many companies are experiencing increased fraud attempts, with a whopping 70% reporting “actual or attempted check fraud.” (Spoiler alert: ACH payments have the lowest fraud rate.)

2.    Sorry about the fraud or mistaken payee check—your money’s gone! Say “bye-bye” to funds if a fraudster—or incorrect payee—is able to cash that errant check. You’ve lost your money and have no recourse. (Spoiler alert: You have protections against unauthorized ACH debits to your bank account  and can get your money back in the event you make an incorrect ACH payment.)
 
3.    No “thank you” note from check suppliers and the Postal Service. Checks cost your company more than any other payment type by far. (Spoiler alert: ACH is a lower cost option.) 
 
4.    No “thank you” note from FedEx. Ever had to make a rush or emergency payment? Delivering that check by expedited service or courier costs a good chunk of change. (Spoiler alert: You can make a rush payment “today” using Same Day ACH at a fraction of the cost.)
 
5.    Are you really still rolling the dice on check float? Managing cash flow is a critical function. But, really, do you like not knowing precisely when that check will clear to afford more float time? (Spoiler alert: ACH payments provide better insight into cash flow, providing precise payment settlement times.)

As the hints suggest, ACH payments provide clear benefits compared to check payments both for the payer and payee. Moreover, ACH payments have the flexibility of facilitating credit (where funds are “pushed” to a biller/supplier) as well as debit payments (where funds are “pulled from the customer’s account with permission from the customer). 

Both checks and ACH debits are “debit” payments, where a customer provides an authorization/permission for a biller/supplier to “pull” funds from a designated bank account for payment. With respect to the ACH debit option, many consumers are very familiar with the various names companies call this option (e.g., Direct Payment, Auto Pay, Simple Pay, Easy Pay, Sure Pay, Recurring Debit, etc.).  

Now, I hear from a lot of B2B accounts payable types, who say that’s fine for consumers, but their companies are uncomfortable with allowing the company bank accounts to be debited for invoice payments. But that’s what a check does! And checks are crazy (see above).  

In fact, about two-thirds of all consumer ACH payments, and about one-third of all B2B ACH payments are made using the ACH debit. That’s billions and billions of debit payments worth trillions of dollars annually.  

The ACH debit is a great electronic payment option, particularly for customers that are challenged by sending ACH credits, and are seeking a convenient and low-cost electronic payment choice. It’s great for billers/suppliers to offer the ACH debit to help customers move away from checks.  

Download our case study to learn how KHS Bicycles, a manufacturer of bicycles and accessories with $30 million in annual revenue, realized costs savings, increased cash flow and built customer loyalty by offering an ACH debit payment option.

And to learn more about the ACH and ACH debit payments, listen to the recording of our “ACH Payment Payables and Receivables Basics for Businesses” webinar.