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Survey: Check Use Drops to a New Low for B2B Payments

  • By Staff Writers
  • Published: 9/10/2019

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Check usage continues to decline for business-to-business (B2B) transactions, falling to an all-time low of 42 percent, according to the 2019 AFP Electronic Payments Survey, underwritten by J.P. Morgan.

B2B check payments have now fallen by nearly 50 percent since 2004, when they were at 81 percent. Check usage has also shown a steady decline since 2013 and 2016, when approximately half of the average organizations’ payments were made using checks.

But even though checks are slower to process than electronic payment methods and are more susceptible to fraud, they continue to dominate B2B transactions, signaling the challenge in changing internal processes. Other barriers treasury departments face in moving away from checks are a lack of IT resources, and difficulty convincing business partners to shift towards sending/receiving e-payments.

The majority of survey respondents remain optimistic about the impact of faster payments on their organizations. Over a third (37 percent) are looking to stay current with new developments and potentially aim for an early adoption to reap early benefits, and 24 percent plan to be aware of new developments so they are better prepared. And despite the challenges of moving away from checks, B2B transactions are by far seen as benefiting the most from faster/real-time payments (60 percent of respondents).

“Although new technology is appealing, treasury and finance professionals tend to stick with what works for them, and their vendors,” said Jim Kaitz, president and chief executive of AFP. “Check and ACH transactions have been around for a long time for a reason. That said, it is encouraging that check usage is in decline, as electronic payments methods are much more efficient, and have a much lower risk for fraud.”

The survey of 379 treasury and finance professionals also found that, despite an array of new developments, wire transfers still dominate the cross-border payments landscape. Fully 68 percent of organizations’ cross border payments are done by wires, highlighting the challenge in making changes to payments processes even if current systems are inefficient and costly.

“J.P. Morgan is once again pleased to sponsor the AFP Electronic Payments Survey,” said Joe Hussey, North America Payables and Receivables Product Executive, J.P. Morgan Wholesale Payments. “By leveraging learnings from this study, organizations are better positioned to improve treasury efficiency, take advantage of new business opportunities and reap the benefits of payment innovations.”

Other key findings in the AFP 2019 Electronic Payments Survey include:

  • Most financial leaders believe that, of all the emerging technologies infiltrating the payments world, application programming interfaces (API) will have the greatest impact (72 percent), followed by open banking payments initiation (60 percent).
  • A majority of respondents cite a lack of a standard format for remittance information as a barrier to e-payments adoption (70 percent).
  • 42 percent of respondents reported that they were unfamiliar with the ISO 20022 payments standard, a surprising increase from 34 percent in the 2016 survey.
  • Credit cards (48 percent) and non-converted checks (40 percent) are the most common methods used for by businesses to receive payments from consumers.

To read the highlights and full report, go to www.AFPonline.org/epayments.  

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