This story appears in the April 2009 issue of Cards&Payments

Besides NACHA's efforts to improve small-business B2B payment options, third-party payment specialists are developing their own new products.

Digital Insight, U.S.-based Intuit Inc.'s online-banking arm, in December released Small Business FinanceWorks, a banking software platform that enables small businesses to link directly to their banks' online-banking Web sites to manage their billing, invoicing and remote deposits online and to accept customers' payment cards online. Digital Insight offers the credit card-acceptance feature only through Intuit's Innovative Merchant Solutions unit.

 The company also says it is working to enable small businesses to more easily send and receive automated clearinghouse payments through Small Business FinanceWorks, says a spokesperson for Intuit, which also sells the widely used small-business management software program QuickBooks.

"We are exploring the possibility of making it much easier for small businesses to handle ACH-payment capabilities down the road," the spokesperson says, declining to specify when.

U.S.-based BankServ Inc. in February announced that its DepositNow small-business payment-processing software now enables online processing of customer-initiated credit card and electronic-check payments, and it also is working to enhance ACH-payment technology.

"The evolution has been gradual, but more small businesses are setting up desktop business-management systems that link to the Internet and, in turn, this is fueling their ability to move more payments from checks to electronic channels," says David Keenan, BankServ vice president of sales and marketing. "We are seeing a real surge in demand for electronic-payments tools."

Susan Feinberg, a senior research director with TowerGroup, an independent research firm owned by MasterCard Advisors, says third-party software providers present "a natural path for small businesses" to replace more checks with electronic payments.

With its broad base of QuickBooks users, Intuit is well-positioned to help small businesses make the leap from paying with checks to connecting to their banks' Web sites to process card and ACH payments, Feinberg says.

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