Today it’s easier than ever to pay for goods and services by credit or debit, from your smartphone or computer, without ever reaching for cash or a check. But if you’re like a lot of professionals, the idea of letting your clients pay you by credit or debit might feel like opening up a can of worms that you just don’t want—or have time—to deal with.
The truth is, accepting online payments is much easier and safer than you might think. Let’s break down some of the most common misconceptions around accepting credit and debit cards in your CPA practice.
Misconception #1: It’s expensive.
Accepting online payments means paying credit card processing fees—this is no secret. The fundamental reason for this is that there’s a cost to move money within our financial systems. But rather than viewing this as a hurdle to accepting credit cards, professionals are accepting that these fees are simply one of the costs of doing business in 2020 and beyond.
Throughout the digital revolution, CPAs have adjusted to new business expenses like computers, web hosting, tax and accounting software, and more recently, cloud storage and document automation tools. Like these other expenses, online payment processing is another cost CPAs are building into their budgets because of the great opportunities for increased efficiency, productivity, and client satisfaction these technologies present.
"You may think adding a new payment type will complicate your practice. In actuality, the right online payment solution can simplify your billing, payments, and reconciliation processes. "
Far from being cost-prohibitive, professionals we’ve talked to consistently tell us they’re pleasantly surprised at how affordable an online payment solution has proved to be. And think of the mailing costs you’ll alleviate when you stop sending paper invoices!
Misconception #2: It’s complicated.
You may think adding a new payment type will complicate your practice. In actuality, the right online payment solution can simplify your billing, payments, and reconciliation processes. When you eliminate the lag time that comes with sending out paper invoices and waiting for checks to arrive in the mail, you get prompt payment of your bills and reduce your outstanding receivables carried over each month.
Online payments show as pending on your account almost instantaneously, and funds are typically deposited fully within one to two business days. Although some online payment processors debit fees daily or weekly, other solutions like CPACharge debit fees in a batch at the beginning of the following month. This means 100 percent of your payments are deposited into your account as they’re received, which makes it simpler and faster to reconcile client payments.
Misconception #3: Clients don’t care how they pay.
Like your clients, you’ve become accustomed to being able to pay online in other areas of your life. (You’ve never seen a “mail a check” button on the Amazon.com checkout page, have you?) The truth is 75% of people now prefer to pay for things with a credit or debit card, and 74% of online households say they pay bills online. And while the majority of people report having two or more credit cards, more than half don’t use or rarely carry a checkbook. From your clients’ perspective, having to pay by paper check is more complicated.
Compare this with receiving an electronic bill via email, making a payment with a few clicks, and receiving an instant electronic payment confirmation. The online payment process lets you remove barriers and friction for your clients to deliver a simpler experience and increase satisfaction.
"Allowing clients to pay their bill online is no longer a nice-to-have service; it’s a must-have for running a modern CPA practice in 2020 and beyond."
Misconception #4: I need to be tech-savvy.
One of the biggest benefits of offering credit and debit card payments is letting your clients pay online from your website or through a payment link you add to your emails or electronic invoices. But if you don’t know your web host from your email client, the thought of implementing online payment tools might feel overwhelming.
Rest assured, using payment links in your emails and invoices is as simple as copying and pasting. And if you’d like to add a payment link to your firm’s website, your online payment provider can walk you through a few simple steps to get up and running. This easy upfront setup will pay off in spades as you begin to see clients take advantage of the feature and pay you quickly and easily online, at their own convenience.
Misconception #5: It creates security risks.
When it comes to the electronic transmission of sensitive client data like names and credit card numbers, your instinct to be diligent on security is spot-on. But rather than putting sensitive data at risk, your online payment solution can help you enhance its security—especially when compared with housing this data in your office. The most important thing to keep in mind when choosing a payment solution is to find one that’s Payment Card Industry (PCI) Level 1 certified, the highest designation of payment industry security.
Do you have 16-digit credit card numbers filed away in client folders, or worse, jotted down on sticky notes littering your desk? Practices like these are highly risky, and you can eliminate them by working with a seasoned payment technology company that employs a team of experienced payment professionals. When you run payments through a qualified external service provider, you can benefit from sophisticated data encryption measures you may not have the resources to implement in your own firm.
By entering payment information directly into a third party’s secure online portal, you can effectively shift some of the liability for handling that data off of your plate. Best of all, by letting clients enter their own payment information from their computer or mobile device, you never have to take possession of that data in the first place.
The bottom line? Allowing clients to pay their bill online is no longer a nice-to-have service; it’s a must-have for running a modern CPA practice in 2020 and beyond, offering the potential to simplify your workflow, boost cash flow, and increase productivity. In no time at all, you’ll wonder how you ever got by without the convenience and flexibility of getting paid fast, with just a click.