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Less flashing of cash

With so many options for accepting card and online payments available, it can be hard to figure out which payment service is right for your business.

Data from the central bank shows that use of cash has declined significantly this year, with the value of ATM withdrawals in August down by almost a third compared to the same month last year. Over the same period, online e-commerce expenditure rose by 16%.

The central bank has also been working to raise awareness of the changes caused by open banking, which was designed in part to provide greater choice in the way payments are made.

So what are the key elements that a business should look for from a payments service?

Checks and balances

There is a lot of talk about frictionless payments, which describe a process where payments are made with as few checks as possible. Many payment providers describe their services as ‘invisible’ to consumers who don’t want to go through multiple stages of verification and only want to hear from their payment service provider if there is a concern that a fraudulent payment has been made or attempted.

But while this might be suitable for making low value payments, a business making a high value payment or sending funds across borders will want to see some checks in place to make sure the money is going to the right recipient.

Make sure that the solution you choose is reliable and secure, offers visibility on the progress of each transaction and predictable costs – especially for cross-border payments which can take days to process and attract unexpected charges.

Funding the future

Assuming security is a given, a payment service needs to be simple and user friendly, offer choice in terms of payment types available and be flexible to different customer needs in terms of payment channel, input, authentication and reporting options.

When it comes to ease of use the key metric for e-commerce is conversion rate, which can measured as the amount of unique visitors to your website divided by the number of purchases they complete. If the payment process is too lengthy or cumbersome potential customers will simply abandon their transactions – and probably tell everyone they know not to bother trying.

Streamlined transactions

Looking ahead, payment providers offering blockchain or distributed ledger services are promising to bypass traditional banking networks with their peer-to-peer model, meaning payments could potentially be delivered more quickly and at lower cost.

There is also interest in value added services such as ‘request to pay’, which allows business to include a ‘pay’ button on their invoices. If the customer clicks this button it triggers an open banking payment initiation request to their bank.

But for now, businesses are more concerned about having the ability to identify and reconcile payments. This process is much easier if you use a cloud-based accounting solution such as Big Red Cloud, which allows you to connect your bank account and import bank transactions directly from bank files rather than having to enter each transaction manually.

Marc O'Dwyer

After completing a Graduate program in Marketing, Marc’s impressive sales career began at Allied Irish Banks, Pitney Bowes and Panasonic where he received numerous Irish and European sales performance awards and consistently exceeded targets and expectations. In 1992, Marc’s entrepreneurial spirit led him to set up his own business, Irish International Sales (IIS). Initially, this company was a reseller for Take 5 Accounts and Payroll software. Within four years, IIS became the largest reseller of Take 5 in Ireland, acquiring four other Take 5 resellers. He also found time to set up two mobile phone shops under the Cellular World brand and a web design company offering website design services for small businesses. In 2001, he bought the majority share in a small Irish software business, Big Red Book. At that time, the company was losing money. The company became profitable within two months, and Marc then acquired a payroll company to compliment Big Red Books Accounting products. In 2003, IIS were appointed as Channel Partners with SAP for their new SME product, SAP Business One. Marc sold his Take 5 business and concentrated on developing this new market for SAP As a result, by 2007, IIS was recognised as the largest Channel Partner for SAP in EMEA (Europe Middle East and Africa). In 2008, the IIS Sales Manager bought the Company from Marc in an MBO. He launched Big red cloud in June 2012, the online version of big red book, to date the company successfully converts 59% of trials into sales and the number of customers is growing rapidly. Marc continues to run both Big Red Book and Big Red Cloud which now support 75,000 businesses. He is a very keen sportsman, having played rugby for 20 years, represented Leinster at under 16 and under 20 levels, and league squash with Fitzwilliam Lawn Tennis Club for 10 years. Marc has competed in 11 Marathons, including the London and Boston Marathons, and has completed several Triathlons and Half Ironman races. He has also completed six Ironman Races in Austria(x2), Frankfurt (Germany), Nice (France) , Mallorca (Spain) and Copenhagen (Denmark)

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