Check use has been in rapid decline for years, replaced by faster, safer, and more convenient digital payment options. In 2018, for the first time, the number of ACH transactions exceeded the number of check payments, and that number has been rapidly increasing each year since.

ACH (Automated Clearing House) is a highly-vetted nationwide network that coordinates electronic payments and money transfers between bank accounts using the account and routing numbers. ACH is ideal for batched, automated, and recurring payments. For this reason, more businesses are opting for ACH as their preferred payment method, and here’s why:

Advantages of ACH Payments

Why it makes more sense for small businesses to pay via ACH:

Low cost 

ACH payments are typically less expensive than checks, wire transfers, or credit card payments. While writing a check can cost between $4-$20, according to The Association for Financial Professionals (ATF), the median internal cost for sending/receiving ACH payments is $0.29, and costs are further reduced with higher transaction volumes. 

Saves time

ACH payments can be scheduled in advance. This allows businesses to spend less time writing, sending, and tracking checks.  Additionally, vendor details only need to be registered once. After that, sending recurring payments is fast and easy.

Easier on your books

ACH makes it easier to keep track of income and expenses. With every payment recorded electronically, transaction history is more likely shareable across apps, and easily available for you and your accountant or bookkeeper. Also, ACH payments make the reconciliation process simpler. Having all payments aggregated in a single location eliminates the headache of trying to connect paper invoices with checks.

Environment friendly

ACH payments completely eliminate the use of paper and ink, otherwise needed when printing checks, sending envelopes, and using stamps. It also reduces the carbon footprint associated with check delivery. 

Secure

ACH payments go through a clearinghouse that enforces rules and regulations while keeping account numbers confidential. Because of this, ACH payments are more secure than other forms of payment. Paper checks that pass through multiple hands, clearly display bank details and are too often lost or stolen. The Electronic Fund Transfer Act gives a period of 60 days to recover funds lost to ACH fraud or error, so if there is an issue with your payment, you have the chance to resolve it. 

With so many advantages, there is a reason why 42% B2B bills are still paid via check, and that reason is fear. Many businesses are still reluctant to share their bank account details, concerned it may fall into the wrong hands. But in 2021, is that fear still justified?

How safe are ACH payments?

ACH is regulated by the federal government and managed by the National Automated Clearing House Association (NACHA), a non-profit organization that regulates, administers, and facilitates the ACH network. ACH fraud and error are uncommon thanks to the rule guide set by NACHA and the preventative measures inherent in the banking and fintech industry. While the rate of error is low, standing at approximately 0.3% of all transactions,  every business owner should acknowledge, understand and safeguard their payments process to reduce risk and promote safety when leveraging ACH transactions. 

Trusted provider

To ensure security and safety in transactions made, it is highly recommended that all third-party payment processing systems be compliant with the NACHA’s operating rules. (Melio is ✅) 

Protect private information 

Tokenization and encryption are two effective ways of securing information by reducing data exposure. 

Encryption is a process that encodes data to ensure that it is only read by its intended recipient. When it comes to ACH payments, NACHA mandates encryption technology when transmitting via an unsecured network (such as the internet).  So make sure the platform you use encrypts (Melio does this ✅)

Tokenization replaces private information (such as an account number) with a unique and unrelated set of characters. This “token” number does not hold any value, making it worthless to others. It is recommended to use tokenization in ACH transactions made through third party providers (Melio does this ✅)

Micro Deposits

As an added layer of security, many third-party payment processors make two micro-deposits into a user’s bank account to verify the recipient’s identity before any formal financial transactions can be made. (Melio does this✅)

Old habits and fear of the unknown are what stop most small business owners from using ACH as their preferred method of payment. These should not hold you back from using a faster, cheaper, and significantly safer payment method to make sound business transactions.