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Why Do Checks Still Dominate B2B Payments in NA? Cont'd

Why do companies continue to pay by check? In part four of the series “The Top 5 Reasons Why Checks Still Dominate B2B Payments,” I explore the challenges surrounding the perceived need for IT resources.

Reason #4 - IT Resources.  Every IT department will tell you that they have more projects to do than they have resources and budget to accomplish them. The mantra, “do more with less” pervades today’s business climate, and companies increasingly struggle with how best to allocate limited resources so they have the most impact. The elimination (or reduction) of paper checks is perceived as requiring system changes for which a business case must be developed and funding approved long before projects can even be considered for the IT development roadmap. But is this perception reality? 

Fortunately, expensive custom integration is no longer required for SaaS-based payment execution solutions. Most ERP systems can be easily setup to output payment files containing all of the required data elements without custom programming.  So with an existing report writer/data export tool and the establishment of an FTP connection, payment files can be generated and sent without requiring IT development resources. Typical implementations will take less than four weeks.

Is the perceived need for IT resources inhibiting your move to electronic payments? Are you aware that there are solutions on the market that don’t require custom development and significant IT investment?


Comments: (3)

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 18 March, 2011, 12:29Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Hi Matthew, I like how you position this. I have always run up against the ROI issue in the final stages of business process improvement, and payments being the last things that happen in most cases become just one of the rough edges that have to be dealt with in "Phase 2".

The problem I see is that the cost has just been shifted, from internal IT to paying a third-party middleman and the banks' excessive charges for electronic payments (non-check payments still appear under the 'luxury' banner, like making a wire is something only the rich people do in black and white movies, or Bond villains do to private Swiss accounts before they blow up the world!).

A paper check is still cheaper, even with your internal labor costs to write, track and reconcile it. A full ROI just doesn't seem to add up. And I really wish it did.

I wrote a little more about my personal experiences with business cases getting in the way of polishing end to end business processes, comparing my experiences in US and the UK. If it doesn't get blocked, the link is here:



Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune 18 March, 2011, 13:38Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

The harsh reality for a corporate, as Phil A points out, is this: checks are free, ePayments are often not. So, justifying a migration solely on the basis of issues around the process end-point - i.e. instrument - will likely remain challenging. At the same time, the end-to-end order-to-cash and procure-to-pay processes stand to derive several collateral benefits from a migration to ePayments. Besides, as someone from Intuit recently said during the launch of its Intuit Payment Network, it might be more effective to focus the solution on the guy who gets paid (i.e. supplier) since s/he's likely to be far more enthusiastic about it than the guy who pays (i.e. buyer)! 

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 18 March, 2011, 16:22Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Now that is some inspired thinking. If I could get paid sooner, and without a trip to the bank then I would probably sign up for that solution!

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This post is from a series of posts in the group:

Payments strategies 2015-2020-2030

Payments systems visions, strategies, trends, pilots, forecasting, and planning for the short-, medium-, and far-term.

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