UK payments association Apacs is talking up the use of electronic payments services in the wake of the new round of strikes by Royal Mail postal workers.
The first of two 48-hour strikes kicked off on Thursday when workers walked out after last-minute talks fell through. A second two-day strike by members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) is scheduled for Monday 8 October.
Businesses face six days without post if all the planned strike action goes ahead.
Apacs is recommending that businesses that use cheques to pay bills and invoices consider alternatives - such as setting up direct debits and online and phone-based payments.
"The postal strike serves as an effective reminder of the benefit of direct debits," says Apacs director of communications Sandra Quinn.
Direct debits are currently used to pay for 58% of all personal and household bills.
Jamie Gunn, CEO of electronic invoicing outfit OB10, warns that any disruption in the postal service is a potential cash-flow killer for some businesses, as no post means no invoices sent out and no money coming in.
"Increasingly companies are looking at more efficient and greener ways of bypassing the antiquated postal system, such as electronic invoicing where an invoice is automatically sent from one computer system to another," says Gunn.