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Organizations of all sizes are tasked with finding ways to improve working capital efficiency. One area that is currently ripe for improvements in both technology and process is the ever-changing landscape of business-to-business and business-to-consumer payments.

Most organizations still issue many checks, albeit at a declining rate. A common goal within accounts payable (A/P) departments is to eliminate all paper-based payments, but very few organizations have reached this goal. In fact, few companies have a clear view of when they can expect checks to disappear entirely from their payment mix. The reality is that check payments continue to be appropriate in many circumstances. Checks remain a necessary payment option that companies must continue to manage now and into the foreseeable future.

At the same time, most organizations are also disbursing via wire transfers, Automated Clearing House (ACH) payments, and payment cards. ACH and wire transfers are initiated directly from a company’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) system or via a bank-hosted online payment portal. Card-based payments are initiated via the ERP system, point-of-sale terminal, phone, email, or the receiving partners’ websites. All of these electronic methods eliminate many of the inefficient manual tasks associated with check payments, including the steps of printing the check and associated remittance detail, stuffing envelopes, applying postage, and placing and tracking the check through the mail. These are all manual and costly activities—and, most important, are non-value-added tasks for a company.

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