US companies loath to abandon cheques

Seven in 10 US organisations believe it is “very likely” or “somewhat likely” that they will convert the majority of their payments to electronic within the next three years.

The finding comes from the Association for Financial Professionals’ (AFP) 2016 Electronic Payments Survey, underwritten by JP Morgan, which surveyed 412 US treasury and finance professionals.

AFP’s research found that 57% of organisations surveyed intend to use same-day automated clearing house (ACH) for last-minute bill payments, while 38% anticipate they will use it for emergency payroll.

However, the 2016 survey also finds that despite new technologies designed to make payments faster, easier and more secure, 51% of organisations still use paper cheques for business-to-business (B2B) payments; one percentage point more than in a similar survey three years ago and breaking the previous downward trend in cheque use.

Most survey respondents are optimistic about the impact of faster payments on their organisations, and 94% consider it important that faster payments are “smart” and are able to carry extensive remittance information.

“Treasury and finance professionals are indicating their support for same-day ACH because they see the value that it brings to last-minute payments,” said Jim Kaitz, president and chief executive officer (CEO) of AFP.

“This should serve as a wake-up call for electronic payments vendors: How can you better serve and assist organisations to shift from cheques to electronic payments?”

Other key findings in the survey include:

  • Overall, a typical US organisation receives 44% of its B2B payments by cheque, down from 50% in 2013.
  • Fifty-one per cent of survey respondents consider cost savings a benefit of electronic payments.
  • Eighty-six per cent have integrated their cheque payments systems with their accounting systems.
  • More than a third of survey respondents are unfamiliar with the ISO20022 payments standard, while 80% use cards to handle at least some employee pay, benefits or reimbursements.


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