All the ways you can accept online payments in 2015
Editors Note: A version of this post was originally published in January 2012 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
In 2015, customers will continue their movement towards a completely digital life not only including a continuance of embracing online billing and payments, but also increased mobile-connectedness.
According to the 2014 Annual Billing Household Survey, customers on average use three different payment methods each month for their bills, those using mobile increased by 69% in 2014, and payment due reminders increase electronic billing adoption, prevent fees, and reduce frustration for consumers.
Multiple billing and payment methods are directly tied to increased satisfaction with a merchant. In addition to creating convenient ways to accept payments for your business, having more options can reduce the time it takes to get paid. Instead of having to follow-up with a customer to remind them to send a check, you can accept payment securely over the phone or on a payment schedule set-up to directly debit their bank account.
Technology continues to evolve and the opportunities for your business are great. What are your options? We’ve put together a list the different ways you can collect payments online in 2015.
Accept Credit Cards and Debit Cards Online
Enabling your customers to pay with their credit card on your website is the most basic way you can accept online payments. However, to set that up for your business, you’ll want to decide whether or not to have your own dedicated merchant account or use an intermediary holding account. These methods can mean very different business processes and funding times, so it’s important to research what is the best option for your business.
Visa, MasterCard and American Express are among the most popularly accepted credit cards, with debit cards being the second-most popular option for paying bills online. Visa accounted for over 45% of credit card transactions in 2013 with AmEx and MasterCard at 26.7% and 23.5% respectively. Debit cards have dropped slightly, but are still 38% of transactions worldwide.
Accept eChecks through ACH Processing
The third most popular way to accept payments is through a direct debit of a bank account via an eCheck, or electronic check. Your customer can input the information on their paper check (routing and account number, name, amount, and authorization) and enter it into an online payment form or software interface to process the payment electronically — without the physical presence of a paper check.
It is governed by the National Automated Clearing House Association, and has different transaction fees (often lower) than credit cards, and can be more secure than waiting for a check to come into the mail.
Mobile Payments Continue to Grow
Swiping a credit card on a mobile phone or keying in a credit card number on a tablet at the point of service is no longer a rare occurrence. The payment is confirmed and an e-receipt can be sent immediately. Add to that the ability to access cash flow reporting, manage customer accounts, and send invoices from anywhere you have a signal, and you start to see the benefits of using a mobile payment app for your business.
According to the Fiserv research, 40% of smartphone owners have paid a bill via their mobile phone—a number that has surged 238% in the last 2 years. While some customers still have security concerns about having more and more information stored on their phones, companies that provide a secure payment acceptance method will provide more value to their customers because mobile payments are easier, more convenient and save time.
Provide an Online Payment Gateway
By adding a simple payment form, customers can pay directly on your website. Repeat customers can even create accounts to save their payment information for fast and easy repeat payments. According to the same Fiserv Household Survey, 82% of those surveyed went to a providers’ website to pay a bill—more than four times the number of customers who went to shop for products or services.
You can outsource this feature to companies that specialize in online payment services, including hosting the payment form, providing the secure payment processing, and secure customer account storage. You can even customize your form to fit with your brand. Offering customers an online payment form enables you to accept online payments by credit card, debit card or echeck, and gives you an online destination for payments of services you market via email or social posts.
Click-to-Pay Email Invoicing
Send your customers an invoice by email and get paid at the speed of a few clicks. Email invoicing enables your customers to pay their bills and receive a receipt in seconds. You can do this by linking the customer to the online payment form described above. With a fully integrated experience from email to web payment form to your customer database, you can streamline your reporting and manage your data securely. So, when the customer clicks and pays, the invoice is marked as paid in your system automatically.
Additionally, 60% of customers have stated that their concern for the environment has played an important or very important role in their decision to pay and view bills online. To get more of your customers to transfer from paper invoices to email invoicing consider sending both for a few months and then they’ll realize how easy, simple and green e-invoicing can be.
Schedule Recurring Billing
A very popular method for customers to pay for many monthly services like gyms and child care services is to simply set them up on a recurring billing system. This option is not only more convenient for your customers, but it almost guarantees you will be paid on time.
Customers say they are concerned about the organization parts of paying bills each month. 35% are worried about keeping track of due dates and 29% are worried about the possibility of being late. By sending e-mail reminders, or having them billed on a recurring basis, businesses can make their customers lives easier while increasing customer satisfaction.
What works best for you?
The list of options for accepting payments for your business are constantly growing and continually evolving. The key to determining the right methods for your business is learning all you can about the pros and cons of each option as well as the cost of having (or not having!) a particular method.
The key is to make paying bills as easy as possible for your customers, so getting paid becomes faster than ever before.
If you’re interested in learning more about the benefits of using PaySimple to collect payments online, check out our free, interactive demo.