Accept Payments Online: eChecks, ACH, Credit Cards, and More

Ready to accept payments online? We certainly hope so…

Consumers are making more online payments in 2020 than ever before, and mobile payments in particular are on the rise. According to PWC, the number of consumers making mobile purchases more than doubled from 2010 to 2017, rising from 7% of consumers to 17%.

When it comes to accepting payments online, it’s important to offer customers a variety of payment options. According to the 2016 Annual Billing Household Survey, customers use an average of 3.6 different payment methods each month for their bills.

Offering multiple billing and payment methods increases satisfaction by improving customer experience. In addition to creating convenient ways to accept payments, having more options can reduce the time it takes your business to get paid. Many merchants find they save time when accepting payments securely over their phone or through a payment schedule, that directly debits their customer’s bank account. Additionally, 46% of consumers surveyed by TSYS preferred to receive email communications about their transactions—making online platforms that manage cash flow attractive to merchants.

The Top Ways Businesses Are Accepting Payments Online 

Technology continues to evolve and the opportunities for your business are great. We’ve put together a list of all the different ways you can accept payments online in 2020.

1. 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. To offer this feature to your customers, you’ll want to decide whether to have your own dedicated merchant account or use an intermediary holding account. Choosing one method over the other can mean very different business processes and funding times, so it’s important to research and determine the best option for your business.

Visa, MasterCard and American Express are among the most widely accepted credit cards. Visa accounted for 47% of credit card transactions in 2015 with MasterCard and Amex at 21% and 12%, respectively, nationwide. Add to that, Visa and MasterCard debit card purchases are projected to grow to 114.1 (Bil.) and 47.8 (Bil.) respectively by 2019 worldwide.

2. Accept eChecks through ACH Processing

The third most popular way to accept payments is through a direct debit of a bank account with an eCheck, or electronic check. This allows your customer to input the information from their paper check (routing and account number, name, amount, and authorization) in an online payment form or software interface. This method processes the payment electronically—without the physical presence of a paper check.

ACH processing is governed by the National Automated Clearing House Association and has different transaction fees (often lower) than credit cards. It can also be more secure and predictable than waiting for a check to come in the mail.

3. Mobile Payments Continue to Grow

Dipping a chip card, swiping a credit card, or keying in a credit card number on a mobile device is becoming the norm for many customers and businesses. The payment is confirmed and an emailed receipt can be sent immediately. Add to that the ability to sell and buy services and products online, 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 Fiserv research*, 79% of households reported having a smartphone, a 20% increase from 2014. With smartphones in the hands of your customers the opportunity to increase revenue through mobile payments is huge. Many consumers find that mobile bill pay makes shopping easier, more convenient and saves them time. While some customers have security concerns about storing information on their phones, companies that offer a secure payment acceptance method provide more value to their customers.

4. Provide an Online Payment Gateway

By adding a simple payment form, customers can pay directly on your website. Returning customers can even create accounts to save their payment information for fast and easy repeat payments. According to the same Fiserv research, between 2015 and 2016, there was a 72% increase in consumers making payments at both the biller and financial institute websites.

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. Depending on your provider, you can even customize the form to match your branding. Offering customers an online payment form enables them to pay you easily and allows you to accept payments by credit card, debit card or echeck. Another great bonus is that online payment forms give you an online destination for services you market through email or social posts.

5. Click-to-Pay Email Invoicing

Send your customers an invoice by email and get paid at the speed of a few clicks. Email invoicing gives your customer the ability to pay their bills and receive a receipt in seconds. You can share an online payment form with your customer through email. 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 your customer clicks and pays, the invoice is marked as paid in your system automatically.

According to Fiserv* 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 so that they can see the value of simple and green e-invoicing.

6. Schedule Recurring Billing

A very popular method for customers to pay for many monthly services like gyms and child care services is to use a recurring billing system. This option is not only more convenient for your customers, but it almost guarantees you will be paid on time.

Staying organized is a top concern for customers when it comes to paying bills each month. 35% are worried about keeping track of due dates and 29% are worried about the possibility of being late, according to a report from fiserv on Boosting Satisfaction and Loyalty with Billing and Payments. By sending email reminders, or having them billed on a recurring basis, businesses can make their customers lives easier while increasing customer satisfaction.

7. EMV/Chip Card Solutions

In October 2015, the liability change happened, making EMV or chip card solutions a consideration for businesses. When you’re thinking about the right payment solution for your business, consider what impact the liability change has (if any) on the way you currently operate your business. For more information:

Preparing Your Business for EMV

How will the EMV change impact my business?

What’s The Best Way To Accept Payments Online?

The list of options for how to accept payments online 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.

Your goal should be to make paying bills as easy as possible for your customers so getting paid becomes faster than ever before.

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Editor’s Note: A version of this post was originally published in January 2012 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and completeness.