In a weird way, eCheck or ACH payments are an anachronism. Or the name "eCheck" is, at least.
What is eCheck or ACH?
An eCheck or ACH payment (ACH stands for automated clearing house) is the name for a bank-to-bank transfer. An anachronism is "a thing belonging or appropriate to a period other than that in which it exists, especially a thing that is conspicuously old-fashioned."
With the rise of Venmo, CashApp, Zelle and others it's said that many millennials don't have or even know what paper checks are. The landscape for bank-to-bank transfers has come a long way but, at their core, that funny "eCheck" name is largely accurate. An "eCheck" is simply a digital way to transfer money from one bank account to another - it's like a paper check but in digital form. This seems like a simple enough concept that there wouldn't be a need to hearken back to a paper check in order to communicate the idea, but such is the nature of human understanding, at least in this case.
Why should a law firm consider offering eChecks as a payment method for their clients? There are two main reasons. The first is customer choice. Any business should strive to offer clients as many ways to pay as possible, provided that those options aren't too costly for the business. Cost brings us to the second main reason. It is dramatically cheaper for firms to accept eChecks than credit or debit cards. Taking Gravity Legal as an example, we charge 2.95% for card processing but 0.35% for eChecks. To make that concrete, a $5000 payment with a credit card costs $147.50 while an eCheck payment for $5000 costs $17.50!
Why "integrated ACH?"
This brings us to the topic of this post: what's so special about "integrated ACH." Well, offering eCheck is great for clients (additional payment method) and great for firms (comparatively inexpensive) but it's not really valuable to either if you don't make it readily available. If your eCheck offering is harder for clients to use than your credit or debit card processing offering, fewer customers are going to use it. But, if it's integrated as part of your payments workflow, right there with your other electronic payment options, then clients are more likely to use it and your firm is more likely to reap the benefits of this less expensive mode of payment.
Spoiler alert: Gravity Legal has integrated eCheck right into our payments workflow.
What's the difference between a wire and an eCheck?
Inevitably, when I talk about eCheck and ACH, that brings up the question: what's the difference between these options and a wire transfer. Well, it turns out there are some differences. But we'll pick those up in a future post.
For more questions about eChecks, ACH, or integrated ACH Contact Us or schedule some time below.