Five Ways to Reduce Your Reliance on the Mail
BY: Sam Huntington
Many individuals and businesses in southern Wisconsin have seen delayed U.S. Postal Service mail deliveries since the closure of Madison's USPS processing and distribution center in 2014. This resulted in mail being routed to Milwaukee for sorting, even when the sender and recipient were local. While mail has never been fast – it's called "snail mail for a reason" – the gap in speed between postal mail and electronic communications widened more.
Compounding these delays are recent news reports about imminent cost-saving measures being enacted at the USPS, as well as stories about the increasing politicization of the non-partisan agency, culminating in the Postmaster General being called before the House to testify.
Politics aside, one thing is very clear: there are many reliable, secure alternative means of sending and receiving payments that don’t rely on envelopes of paper hand-delivered to your mailbox.
If your business is not taking advantage of a paperless remote-banking system, you might be missing out on security, costing your operation needless expenses, and sacrificing key efficiencies. Here are five to consider.
- Automated Clearing House (ACH). Unlike most other methods of payments, you can use ACH to send and receive money. ACH payments are very inexpensive and secure, when properly executed. Common uses of ACH are direct-deposit payroll, tax payments, and collection of accounts receivable. Many businesses are able to take advantage of trade discounts by the timeliness and documented receipt of making their account payable payments by ACH, adding to their savings.
- Wire Transfers. Wire transfer allows for the immediate and final movement of funds. Your bank should be able to help you send wire transfers securely and quickly from your computer, wherever that might be. Wire transfers are often used for high-dollar transactions, making payments where guaranteed funds need to be transferred with proof of finality, and when time is of the essence.
- Remote Deposit Capture. Mailing checks to the bank for deposit carries a risk of unexpected delays and possible losses. It also guarantees that the funds are "in limbo,” meaning that they can’t be employed by the depositor. Making the deposit from your desktop using a scanner or the camera on your phone accelerates the collection process and eliminates the risk of losses caused by theft and lost mail.
- Corporate Credit Cards. Many personal credit card benefits, such as reward points and the elimination of annual fees, have become commonplace with business credit card accounts as well. More and more businesses use their credit cards for large business purchases and accumulate reward points for monthly statement cash rebates or travel benefits.
- Merchant Credit Card Acceptance. On the other end of the transaction from corporate credit cards, credit card acceptance allows quick settlement of funds for the accepting merchant. While there are fees associated with merchant credit card acceptance, if the funds are used to reduce the level of outstanding borrowings and free up cash, this method of payment acceptance is attractive to many types of businesses outside the traditional retail space.