Written by Guest Writer: Lindsey Patterson
For all existing companies who sell goods and services to the public or to other businesses, accounts receivable are one of their most valuable assets. Depending on the size of the company and the product they provide, businesses will use various methods to process payments from it’s customers.
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Though cash is still king, few customers pay for goods with cash these days and for big-ticket items, cash is rarely a viable form of payment for most buyers. Few people can process payments for a tractor or a new set of furniture outright, and ongoing services require recurring payments rather than a one-time transaction. In these cases, vendors might use a recurring billing subscription or ACH processing. In both of these cases, customers sign up to have payments made automatically through either their debit card or bank account. Customers tend to enjoy the fact that they don’t have to remember to make the payment each month and for the vendor it offers the security of guaranteed payments.
When in need of immediate or significant cash flow, a business might choose to participate in receivables funding by using receivable factoring services for commercial companies. In this instance, a business will basically sell their accounts receivable to a factoring service for a small fee. Although this service may be a strategy used by companies that are struggling, it is also a good option for a business that is doing well but needs access to their receivables immediately to fund an expansion of their inventory or physical location.
2. E-Commerce Payments
Companies that conduct business online frequently accept payments through payment service providers such as PayPal or Stripe. There are many benefits to using such services for businesses and customers alike. Unlike credit card companies, these e-commerce payment services rarely require a company to set up a merchant account and they take the responsibility for protecting sensitive financial information off of the business. For customers, they provide a secure way to pay without revealing credit card or bank account information to multiple vendors. In a time in which data breaches have become a common occurrence, consumers are becoming more and more protective of their financial and personal information.
It is less common but these services can also be used in a physical location, although it does require some dedicated equipment such as a card reader or a POS device. Providers like Square are leading the way in this arena, betting on the fact that customers will love the idea of being able to protect their personal information at physical locations just as much as they have come to rely on it online.
3. Credit and Debit Cards
Although alternative payment service providers have begun to sweep the internet, in physical locations credit and debit cards are still the most common payment forms by far. Businesses love the assurance of guaranteed payments and customers love the convenience. With the advent of mobile wallets, it is now easier than ever to use your credit cards or bank account at a brick-and-mortar store.
A mobile wallet allows customers to use their smartphone to process payments for their purchases without ever needing to carry their physical card with them and without needing to touch a card reader. However, credit card companies and banks should beware because mobile wallet apps are developing rapidly and may soon make using alternative payment options as simple in-store as they are online.
For any business engaged in the selling of goods or services, streamlining the process of receiving payments should take high priority. Although some payment services will be better for one business than another, the wise company will provide as many viable options to their customers as possible. Consumers require security to protect their information, but they gravitate towards convenience. Giving customers as many choices as possible while keeping their transactions safe and simple will help keep a companies accounts receivables in the green, assuring a healthy cash flow and business growth.