New analysis from corporate payments firm Bill.com suggests ACH payments are dominating the accounts payable department. In an announcement on Thursday (Dec. 13), Bill.com said in its report, "The Rise of Modern Business Payments," that accounting professionals now point to ACH payments as the dominant way they pay their corporate bills, with 73 percent noting that they use ACH payments and online banking to pay their clients' invoices.
In addition, most of the 460 accounting professionals surveyed noted that they no longer use handwritten paper checks to pay bills, with both handwritten and computer-printed checks now topping the list of payment rails that accountants said they are using less frequently this year compared to last. Only 6 percent of respondents said they aren't using digital payments to pay their corporate clients' bills.
Bill.com researchers found that other digital B2B payment rails are on the rise, too, including 3 percent of respondents who said they are using virtual cards more often than they did last year to pay their bills. One percent even said they are using cryptocurrency more this year to pay their own invoices. Yet, when paying their clients' bills, less than 1 percent said they use cryptocurrency.
"Payments are rapidly evolving for accounting firms, as digital payments are now more often used than paper checks," said Bill.com Senior Vice President of Engineering Vinay Pai in a statement. "Enterprise accounting firms have already begun to work with new digital payment methods like cryptocurrencies and virtual credit cards, which gives them valuable experience and competitive advantages as these new forms move [toward] mainstream acceptance."
It is important, however, to note both a relatively small sample size and other factors that prevent the findings from reflecting the broader B2B payments landscape. For instance, companies that outsource their bill payment operations may be more likely to see electronic payment rails used than if they kept bill payment operations in-house.
Still, the research does reflect changing attitudes of corporate bill payments as electronic rails gain traction.
The survey found that 70 percent of accountants surveyed cited the speed of processing and reconciliation as their key motivation for using electronic rails, while most also pointed to the ease of working with an entirely digital platform, as well as the "anywhere, any time" functionality of electronic payments. Nearly half said they recommended electronic payment rails because they support enhanced cash flow management for their clients, and ePayments provide more data for enhanced financial analysis.