How to Accept ACH Payments for Small Businesses
The Automated Clearing House (ACH) is the network that oversees transfers from one financial institution to another. When you accept ACH payments as a business, you allow your customers to transfer funds from their accounts to yours. Leveraging online ACH payments can be a valuable practice for all types of businesses.
How to Receive ACH Payments
To begin processing ACH payments, follow the simple steps below.
Step 1: Set Up an ACH Merchant Account
The ACH network oversees electronic transfers from one bank account to another. To process these transactions, you must have an account with the ACH network to identify your business and access customer bank accounts for withdrawals. Typically, you’ll create this account through an e-payment platform.
When you set up your account, you must provide various information to prove your identity as a merchant. This information includes:
- Certificate of incorporation
- Federal tax ID
- Proof of company address
- Valid ID for company owners
Additionally, you’ll have to provide an estimated processing volume of your electronic fund transfers.
Step 2: Request Customer Authorization
After verifying your company through the ACH network, you can request customer authorization, which is essential to receive ACH payments. Authorization requirements exist to protect consumers from unwarranted account withdrawals from businesses. You have a few options to retrieve valid authorization from a customer. You can:
- Receive verbal agreement over a recorded phone message.
- Ask your customers to submit an online payment authorization form.
- Have your customers sign a physical confirmation form.
Online authorization forms will file directly to the ACH network for authorization. At CSG Forte, we simplify the authorization process with an online authorization process on our platform. Send the authorization form to your customers to complete the process in a few minutes.
Step 3: Create the Payment
With your merchant account and customer authorization, you’re ready to set up the payment with your customer. During the authorization process, your customer will provide the following information:
- Bank name
- Account number
- Routing number
- Customer name
You’ll use this information alongside your merchant details to set up the payment. You’ll also set the amount required for transfer. In the case of recurring payments, you will only need authorization and bank account information for your initial transaction.
Step 4: Submit Details to ACH Network
Your final step is inputting all information into the ACH system for the transfer to take place. You’ll rely on processing software to handle this last step. When you input the payment information, the ACH network alerts both banks involved in the transfer. From there, the customer’s bank will provide the funds requested by you, the merchant.
How Long Does It Take to Receive an ACH (eCheck) Payment?
ACH payments take about three to five business days to process through the network and appear in your bank account. The process takes a few days because the ACH network needs to verify the transaction. ACH batches only operate during the business week and close at 5 p.m. EST, so consider the payment’s timing when determining when it should show up in your account.
You can use Same Day ACH payments if you need a faster payment option. In these cases, ACH transactions are sent and received the same day the request is made rather than the following morning. You can expect these payments to be settled the day after submitting them.
The Benefits of Accepting ACH and eChecks for Your Business
When you accept eCheck payments, your business and consumers can enjoy the benefits.
The initial authorization process for ACH payments can take as little as a few minutes for you and your customers. Once authorization is complete, your customers can send payments to you with the press of a button. These payments’ convenience is undeniable, especially for e-commerce businesses handling all transactions online.
More convenient, digital payment methods improve the consumer experience for all types of products and services. While you can enjoy the convenience of eliminating paper checks, your customers can skip writing them out and mailing them to you. Happier customers lead to more business and a positive reputation all around.
Processing physical checks and counting out cash can be an expensive process with the manual labor involved. Additionally, credit and debit card charges can be on the pricier side. ACH payments typically come with low, flat rates per transaction, allowing your business to offer convenient payments without overextending your financial resources.
You can reinvest the money you save on administrative overhead into your business and its growth. The reduced manual labor can also decrease the need for more internal team members, saving money on payroll—even as you grow.
The ACH network is highly regulated and secure to keep money safe as it transfers from one bank account to another. While many layers of security protect financial data as it moves from institution to institution, there are also clear reasons for disputing charges. ACH charges are not like credit card charges that can be disputed for any reason.
Consumers want to know their bank account information is safe during authorization, and your third-party ACH provider should have that covered. With CSG Forte, tokenization replaces all important data with a token that is generated randomly and has no intrinsic value. Our end-to-end encryption and compliance with financial regulations provide the trust and data protection you and your consumers are looking for.
Online payments through the ACH network lend themselves to automation. Integrate your payments platform with financial management software to keep track of all money coming in and going out via ACH transfers. With the help of automation, your team can greatly reduce administrative responsibilities.
Additionally, eChecks or ACH payments are among the most common payment types used for recurring billing. Consumers can also enjoy the efficiency of money automatically taken from their accounts each month, reducing their payment responsibilities and eliminating late fees.
What Types of Businesses Can Use ACH Payment Processing?
Many types of businesses can benefit from ACH payment processing.
Small and Medium Businesses
Many small and mid-sized businesses understand the importance of offering convenient payment options for their customers. However, these businesses also have fewer resources than larger enterprises and wonder if they can afford the fees associated with e-payment processing.
ACH payments have relatively low fees compared to credit card processing and far less administrative overhead than processing checks. When you’re looking for convenient payment options at a reasonable price, ACH payments are the way to go.
Integrated Software Vendors
Integrated software vendors (ISVs) provide software as a service (SaaS) that depends on a subscription model. These businesses are ideal for ACH payments because recurring payments are simple to set up.
When ISVs collect payments from several sources in multiple formats, managing finances can be complex. These businesses also often operate with projected income rather than actual income, so staying organized and tracking the money coming in is essential. Online payments with ACH transfers unify payments from clients and make financial tracking easy.
Larger companies often have significant customer bases to match. With payments coming from many different sources, tracking earnings and reconciling payments can become complex. ACH payments provide the efficiency of automation, allowing enterprises to manage their incoming payment volume.
Donors, constituents and more send money to government organizations. Whether an organization is municipal, state or federal, accepting payments from multiple sources can be challenging. With ACH transfers, organizations can securely house their payments under a single system while reducing administrative strain on internal teams.
How Can CSG Forte Help You?
CSG Forte offers a complete, end-to-end payments solution with Dex. Our platform allows you to seamlessly and securely accept transfers from your customers, empowering your business with payment flexibility and reduced administrative responsibilities. See what CSG Forte can do for you, and get started with us today.