Opinion

Getting Up to Speed in the On-Demand Economy

It wasn’t long ago that you had to arrange in advance for a taxi to pick you up for that early morning flight, or that you had to order gifts and office supplies well in advance since shipping could take more than a week. Times have changed, and the on-demand economy is all around us. With more than 54 million people getting free same-day or next-day deliveries with Amazon Prime, and more than 40 million people booking a quick ride every month on Uber, we live in a society where people have come to expect instant results.

In order to succeed in today’s economy, businesses must be prepared to adapt to consumers increasingly urgent needs. Unfortunately, many businesses are losing out on the ability to meet the demands of consumers simply because they are not adopting technology that is readily available. From mobile apps to express shipping, businesses must employ solutions that help increase customer satisfaction and loyalty.

One example of this is payments. It seems odd that in a world where you can order a meal on your phone and have it delivered in 20 minutes, the payment for that meal may not be settled with funds actually paid to the restaurant for a whole day. While there will always be a need for traditional methods for scheduled, recurring payments like Social Security, rent and mortgages, there are still gaps where businesses and consumers could benefit enormously from faster payments.

These solutions exist, and businesses that aren’t taking advantage are losing out. For example, Same Day ACH was released last fall and is already solving problems for businesses around the country. This new, ubiquitous, optional service provides absolute certainty that a payment can reach anyone else with an account at a financial institution, regardless of which bank or credit union used, when the payment is needed most – on the same day. The service relies on the ACH network, a central element to U.S. commerce that enables the Direct Deposit, business-to-business transactions and electronic bill payments we use every day.

Many businesses are opting to make faster payments themselves, with Same Day ACH accounting for almost 13 million transactions totaling more than $18 billion in the first quarter of 2017 alone. And while Same Day ACH volume is on the rise, increasing by 13.6 percent since the fourth quarter of 2016, every organization that deals with transactions has an opportunity to get their payments up to speed with the on-demand economy.

Our economy also depends on hourly and “gig” workers who defy the traditional work structure of your typical 9-to-5 workday. With the rise of the “gig economy,” it’s more important than ever for businesses to keep their employees satisfied. For many part-time, seasonal or hourly employees, receiving quick pay via Direct Deposit was often impossible because there simply wasn’t enough time between hours submitted and payroll disbursement to make it work.

Now these businesses have the ability to process pay for their employees via automated Direct Deposit on the same day. This extends the benefits of electronic payroll to workers who might otherwise have to turn to check-cashing services, with their high fees, to gain immediate access to their wages. From Sept. 23, 2016, through March 31, 2017, Same Day ACH has helped people get their pay quickly 14 million times.

Not only are businesses using Same Day to pay their employees and consumer customers, but they are finding value in being able to pay other businesses they work with as well. Plus, businesses have the added benefit of sending a tremendous amount of information right with the payment – all received by their trading partner on the same day to help them account for the payment. Consumers, too, are eager for a new, viable channel to quickly pay each other and to pay their bills.

In September, billers will also be able to integrate Same Day ACH functionality in their own websites for faster bill payments. This debit payment option will provide additional opportunity for consumers to easily and quickly ensure their own bills are paid.

As financial institutions, businesses and bank account holders become familiar with Same Day ACH, we may finally be able to enhance the payments ecosystem and move forward into the on-demand economy. Businesses across all sectors have an opportunity to meet and exceed customer expectations by ensuring fast, on-demand delivery, even when it comes to payments.

 

Jan Estep is president and CEO of NACHA—The Electronic Payments Association, the governing body of the ACH network.

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