Online Payments

FintechOnline Payments

Paper to Plastic to Digital Payments: Evolution of Credit Cards And Checks

Payments Innovation

Before plastic cards, credit cards were made of paper and contained a customer’s important banking information. This may sound archaic, inefficient, and insecure, depending on your age and whether you’re one of the millions of people who still use paper checks (or cheques). 

For one reason or another, the evolution of checks to safer, more convenient plastic checking or debit account cards never eradicated the original paper version. Canada, for example, processes nearly a billion checks every year, even though it still takes days to process (and they’re fraught with fraud). Likewise, unlike the rapid credit card evolution to mobile wallets and instant online payments, the evolution of checking accounts to instant online payments has had slower adoption. 

Let’s consider the history and evolution of both credit cards and checks—and predict the (present) future of online bank payments. 

Motivated innovation: The credit card evolution

In 1970, IBM launched a pilot project with American Express and American Airlines. They developed the first-ever magnetic stripe—that would become integral for the evolution of credit cards, bank cards, ticketing systems, passports, and the like around the globe. The back of every bank card could now automatically store personal financial data. This discovery was not only revolutionary, but it was also essential

IBM was building computer systems and needed a way to increase adoption. Airlines needed to streamline the ticketing and boarding process. Banks wanted their customers to be able to automatically withdraw and deposit money from remote locations.  

The biggest innovation motivator, however, for evolving credit cards was the uptick in fraud in the 1960s. A mechanical imprint and signature to verify someone’s identity may seem questionable today, but consider how far we’ve come. Back then, a merchant had to make a carbon copy of a customer’s credit card, handwrite the cost and tax, physically deposit the slip at the bank, and wait for bank tellers to manually check the signature and account for funds and against known fraud accounts. Only then could they approve or reject the payment. 

The several-day lag time between purchase and account verification opened customers, merchants, and banks up to all kinds of security, NSF, and fraud risks. Unfortunately for paper checks, this archaic security risk is still a present concern. For processing credit cards, the archaic carbon paper machines that manually “charged” credit cards quickly became a thing of the past. 

In the midst of this credit card revolution, in 1977, there were 8.2 million credit cards in circulation. Of course, we know that credit card evolution and innovation didn’t stop there. The 1990s saw the emergence of EMV chip smart card technology and its simple and automatic tap and instant approval system. By 2008, mobile wallets launched to improve Apple sales. Online shopping using credit cards and mobile wallets have taken off. By the end of 2017, the average American held 3.1 credit cards—and the outstanding debt they can hold.

Checks to debit cards to digital payments 

Interestingly, both credit cards and debit cards benefitted from and evolved with innovations like the rise of plastic, magnetic stripes, and EMV chips. Yet the former tends to send its users into crippling debt. In the third quarter of 2019, credit card loans reached $1.08 trillion in the U.S. The rise in credit card use over the decades has seen with it a rise in outstanding consumer debt. 

What if innovation and further adoption in the checking sector could put an end to that? The hassle of having to go to a bank to deposit a check, for example, and wait for days for it to be processed should be a thing of the past. Just like the carbon paper slips for credit cards. 

The same goes for processing and verifying digital payments for checking accounts. Since checking accounts have undergone digital transformation, the banking industry has seen a rise in more secure and efficient technologies thanks to financial technology companies and banks working together. For example, ACH (Automated Clearing House) payments in the U.S. or EFT (electronic funds transfer) in Canada transfers money online between accounts. Examples are direct deposits and online bill payments. These transfers between checking accounts online are becoming faster, more secure, and easier than ever. 

The future of checking accounts and digital payments 

At VoPay, our Intelligent EFT / ACH (iQ11) technology processes and verifies digital payments instantly—without the security risk of sharing credit card information online or mailing a paper check. In fact, with our intelligent EFT and ACH solution and secure partnerships, no financial information is ever shared. The entire system is tokenized (stay tuned for an upcoming blog post on what that means for your safety and security). In short, personal financial data is replaced with an algorithmically generated number. 

This is the future of online banking, payments, and shopping. Customers can work their way out of credit card debt by instead using their debit cards online, anywhere, instantly, and securely.

read more
Online PaymentsPayment Platform

What Are ACH Payments and How Do They Work?

ACH Payments

An ACH payment is a bank term that stands for the Automated Clearing House. ACH payments are electronic transfer systems that move money between bank accounts in the U.S. A few examples of ACH payments include direct deposits, payroll, online bill payments, tax refunds, and vendor payments for merchants and small businesses. 

Automated Clearing House Network

Since 1974, the Automated Clearing House (ACH) Network has been run by the National Automated Clearing House Association (also known as NACHA). In other words, they are responsible for the majority of all payments in America. 

The ACH Network that is responsible for the payments is one of the biggest payment networks in the U.S. In 2018, nearly 23 billion transactions were processed valued at more than $51 trillion. According to one source, the number of transactions in 2017 was equal to approximately 66 transactions and more than $140,000 for every living American. The ACH payment network also represents more than 10,000 financial institutions, not to mention consumers and businesses. 

How does ACH payment processing work

ACH payments are transfers of money between two bank accounts and can be broken up into ACH debit and ACH credit. Payments are either transferred (or pushed) from your account or received (or pulled) by another. 

ACH Debit: Pulling money

Pretend for a moment that you’re a business owner with a utility bill to pay. You had previously provided your account and bank routing number to the utility company and approved direct bill payments. The company sets up an ACH debit to pull money from your account. 

ACH Credit: Pushing money

Assuming that you are still that same owner with a utility bill, you can also initiate the payment. You can create an ACH credit to withdraw or push funds from your account to the utility company.  

How ACH payment processing works

In order to receive or send ACH payments, one has to connect their bank account and routing number to enable automatic payments online. Once that’s happened, here’s how the processing works: 

  1. Initiate transfer: Sending money triggers an initial transfer request to the central clearinghouse.
  2. Sorting: The ACH Network sorts the payment requests and sends it to a receiving bank.
  3. Processing: This bank processes the transfer to either an ACH credit or debit. If the payment is approved and was an ACH credit that “pushed” funds, the transfer is complete. 
  4. Pulling funds: If “pulling” funds, or an ACH debit, then the funds must move back through the clearinghouse before arriving in the other account. 

How long does an ACH transfer take

The ACH Network processing time is getting faster and easier with every innovation but can still take up to 3-5 business days. This is because of the multi-step process and various bank touchpoints that each transaction must go through to be completed. However, recent changes to NACHA’s operating rules will make transfers faster than ever. As of September 2020, most, if not all, ACH transfers will be completed by the same day. 

How to make ACH payments

VoPay connects directly to both ACH payments in the U.S. and EFT payments in Canada, allowing users to accept, send, and bulk transfer payments online. Our secure technology allows users to accept and manage ACH payments directly from any bank account. 

ACH payments in Canada

Digital payments in the U.S. are called ACH payments. In Canada, however, they are called EFT payments, or electronic transfer funds. The difference is that ACH payments go through the Automated Clearing House Network. For more information, read our in-depth blog post called Everything You Need to Know about EFT Banking

Learn more about VoPay and ACH payments.

read more
FintechOnline PaymentsOpen Banking

The Future of Digital Banking: Top 5 Trends for 2020

Invisible Banking

With the dawn of our new decade comes innovations, connectivity, speed, ease, and security in banking like never before. It is a thrilling time to be in digital banking. Payments can be made in an instant by merely saying the words aloud, tapping our phones or even driving. The future of digital banking is now and it’s invisible, open, and highly connected. 

Here are the top five trends in digital banking for 2020 and beyond. Perhaps most interestingly, yet unsurprisingly, is how connected they are. One cannot thrive or exist without another. 

The future of digital banking: Top 5 trends for 2020

1. Invisible banking and payments

Invisible banking is just as it sounds: banking behind the scenes that takes place automatically or with a simple tap or even drive by. It’s banking that we don’t have to think about, explains Penny Crosman’s in the American Banker article, The Rise of the Invisible Bank

Invisible banking happens behind the scenes when, for example, we tap our mobile phones to pay for transportation, coffee, or gas. It takes place with voice banking when we tell Alexa or Siri to pay a bill or transfer money. Invisible banking connects to our mobiles, wearables, laptops, POS applications, cars, and other Internet of Things (IoT) products. 

Invisible banking—and invisible payments, for that matter—happen everywhere, all around us, and at any time. Every device can accept and transfer payments, pay bills, save money, or invest it. We can now pay when, how, and wherever we want.

VoPay is a great example of invisible payments at work. Users connect their bank account and can make digital payments instantly and easily from then on without a second thought. In 2020 and beyond, invisible payments like this will be the new norm.

2. Mobile payments

Analysts predicted that mobile payments would hit the $500 billion mark by 2020. That represents a yearly growth rate of approximately 80% in five years. That is major growth, but not unsurprising. Mobile innovations have changed the way humans live, work, connect, and now bank and make purchases.

In our two-part blog series, 15 Fintech Companies To Watch In 2020, we discussed only some of the hundreds of innovative financial technology companies on the rise. Revolut, for example, is a tech company that is now one of the world’s fastest-growing bank account providers. Fintech companies are leading the shift toward mobile banking—and millions of mobile users are signing up for their applications.    

3. Open banking

In order for invisible banking, invisible and mobile payments, and innovation in the digital banking sector to continue to boom, we need open banking. We wrote a post on open banking, which dives into much more detail, but essentially it means “open bank data.” It is the sharing of customers’ financial data between banks and innovators, such as VoPay and other fintech companies. Collaboration for a greater purpose, if you will.

4. Financial wellness 

The digital transformation of banking and payments will be powered by both banks and fintech companies. Working together. Financial data ownership and control has been a challenge for years. Banks own the data that fintechs require to innovate. Yet, we’re seeing more countries begin to consider open banking regulations and more banks and fintechs are entering into equally advantageous partnerships.  

The challenge with invisible banking is that because it happens without much thought (not unlike breathing, according to ING’s CIO, Benoit Legrand), users will have to take extra care to keep track of their money and spending. Kristen Berman, a scientist and lab co-founder at Duke University said that ‘overarching trends in money have had mixed results for financial wellness.’ Essentially, financial apps have made it too easy to spend money. 

There are, of course, mobile applications to counter this issue. In our 15 Fintech Companies To Watch In 2020 post, for example, we discussed many financial wellness applications that aim to help us to budget, save, invest, improve our credit, spend less, and learn more about financial literacy in general. 

For example, Alan McIntyre of Accenture explained in the American Banker article that “the U.S. banking industry still has tens of billions of dollars of insufficient-funds fees and we’re getting to a point where technology should save customers from that.” However, fintech companies like VoPay aim to put an end to this: digital payments can be secure and easy for consumers, without the non-sufficient fund fees and risk for merchants.

5. Security, service, and AI

Regardless of how, where, and when consumers and merchants choose to bank, they will always demand superior security and service. When it comes to digital banking, security is of the utmost importance. 

It is essential for fintech companies and banks to continue to innovate security solutions and be transparent about data use. As open banking regulations come into play, consumers will own and control their personal financial data. Giving up this data control does not loosen the implied and expected security that consumers need from their banks, third-party fintechs, merchants, and other service providers. The coming years will see new developments in payment security and authentication, especially via AI and Machine Learning. 

When it comes to customer service and user experience, there is, however, a fine balance between AI and human support. Customer support can be automated and digitized to a point. After that, humans are increasingly wanting human support and connection to help troubleshoot or problem solve. McIntyre explained that Accenture’s research found that the majority of people want the reassurance of talking to a human being. 

Learn more about VoPay and the future of digital payments. 

read more
Online Payments

Three Payment Trends Set to Make Headlines in 2020

2020 Payment Predictions

The payments industry continues to modernize and evolve under the influence of new payment innovations and changing consumer preferences for convenient and quick transaction processing. 

For many, these new waters can be challenging to navigate, and we continue to see countries react to these demands in different ways. In Canada, desire continues to grow for faster, frictionless payments from both consumers and businesses yet, it has traditionally been a country slow to adopt new payment methods.

To supply this demand and with the rise of fintechs over the past several years, we have witnessed a considerable shift in digital and mobile payments to industry consolidation and collaboration. With major tech players now entering the payments space, such as Facebook and Google, businesses can find it challenging to sift through the noise and find the solution best suited for their needs. 

So, with 80% of businesses demanding more payments options, how will the industry react in 2020? We have shared our top predictions for 2020 below: 

Increasing Digital Payment Options 

Customer experience is becoming more of a priority for businesses as consumers continue to drive brand value and competition. Now more than ever, consumers are opting to conduct payments through direct account-to-account transactions, as opposed to traditional credit card processing. This is illustrated through Payments Canada’s 2019 report which found that electronic payments accounted for 73% of Canadian consumer financial transactions in 2018. 

As such, in 2020 we will see increased competition and availability of digital payments options for consumers, leading to a busier marketplace and an intensified need for businesses to differentiate. 

Growth of Open Banking

Open banking addresses consumer demands for enhanced speed and a seamless, streamlined payments experience through opening internal bank data and processing to external parties through digital methods. This year, North America has witnessed an increase in growth in open banking services due to ongoing innovation from fintechs transforming interactions between banks, incumbents and consumers. 

In Canada, consumers continue to choose banking institutions over fintech disruptors with a recent report from Ernst and Young finding that only 50% of Canadian respondents were fintech customers compared to 64% of respondents globally. However, a PYMNTS and Green Dot survey found 57.5% of consumers are interested in banking with companies that are not FIs so in 2020 we could witness Canadians shift away from traditional banking methods to embrace fintech offerings. 

With this in mind, we expect to see banks facing increasing challenges when it comes to competing for consumer attention in an increasingly digital environment.  

Fintech & Bank Collaboration

In order to be able to offer the improved digital payments options consumers have come to expect, in 2020 banks will need to collaborate and establish strategic partnerships with fintechs. This will enable them to utilize behavioural data insights to enhance offerings and build a better payments experience for consumers and businesses alike. 

A collaborative banking environment would also help to strengthen consumer trust as consumers can remain with their banking institution while benefitting from the improved customer experience that fintech technologies can provide. Therefore, as we enter a new decade, we predict that more banks and fintechs will start forming and leveraging strategic partnerships in order to deliver the financial services expected from an increasingly digital-savvy set of consumers.   

Overall, it is anticipated that 2020 will be a year of restructuring for payments globally and both businesses and consumers alike will be able to take advantage of the benefits, including safer data sharing, increased choice and enhanced services.

Learn more about the solutions we provide at VoPay.

read more
Online Payments

Credit Card Vs Bank Account Payments Infographic

Ecommerce Payments

Credit cards dominate e-commerce payments but Canadian businesses want to offer their customers more payment options. We’ve put together an infographic comparing credit card and bank account payments. Thanks to VoPay’s innovative Intelligent EFT / ACH (iQ11) product, businesses can now accept online bank account payments, just like credit cards while saving 80% to 90% in processing fees.

Payments Infographic
read more
Online Payments

The Very Real (and Hidden) Costs of an NSF


Non-sufficient funds, NSF, and insufficient funds all mean the same thing and are fairly self-explanatory: a lack of funds in one’s account to cover a transaction. When a transaction or payment attempts to go through an account, the bank takes time to compare how much money is in the said account versus how much money is required for the payment. When there is a lack of funds, the bank either rejects (NSF) or allows (overdraft) the transaction to go through. Both options have costly repercussions, especially on businesses.

Interestingly, there are plenty of articles on the cost of an NSF for consumers—and how to avoid insufficient funds in personal bank accounts with overdraft protection and proper budgeting—however, there isn’t much information out there for businesses. 

Business owners are the ones most likely to incur the very real and highly damaging costs of an NSF and that’s what we’ll talk about today. 

The real cost of an NSF for business owners

Charging NSF fees are good and very bad for business

Let’s quickly look at the repercussions of a “bad cheque” (or check), for example, on a customer. This is important because the business and consumer are inextricably linked and are often one and the same (as in business-to-business B2B relationships).

According to Nerd Wallet, some U.S. states allow businesses and merchants to charge customers up to $30 for handling costs of an NSF. On top of this cost, the banks can also charge the consumer a fee of around $30. That consumer now owes $60 in processing fees on top of the original amount, which has yet to come out of their bank account—and may eventually require legal action and collections agencies, which could damage their credit rating. 

For a business owner, that ability to charge customers for NSF fees is both good and bad for business, depending on how you look at it. Hitting customers with NSF fees, of course, is not a great way to build a good brand reputation, credibility, or encourage repeat, loyal customers. The same applies if the business and consumer are one and the same in a B2B relationship. For example, if a business owner pays a contractor or landlord with a “bad cheque” their reputation and credibility are on the line at the very least. 

Regardless of whether the business owner can, in fact, collect a fee for the bounced or bad cheque, this is still not the most costly offence of an NSF. 

The real cost of an NSF: Disrupting a business’ (cash) flow 

Beyond fees and reputation damage, the actual cost of an NSF for businesses is the damage that it does to its regular business flow. That is the daily workflow, transactions, accounts receivable, and above all else, the available cash flow. 

Slow turnaround time of banks and cheques

Let’s say that a small business budgeted for a certain large payment to come in at the beginning of the month and planned their cash flow, projects, bills, and other payments according to that invoice. They receive the cheque on time and mail it to the bank to be processed. Several weeks later, they receive a notice that the cheque bounced and that they owe a processing fee. 

The tardiness of this NSF notice is the first and perhaps biggest offence. Had the small business owner known that the cheque was bad weeks ago, they could have adjusted their cash flow, budgets, and bills accordingly—and simply not gone through with the transaction (or tried billing a different account). 

Worse, the customer could be long gone or difficult to track down, now that the quid pro quo doesn’t apply. Also, if a trusting relationship wasn’t previously established, the business owner could be out of luck for this payment or have a difficult and expensive time collecting. 

The cash flow cost of an NSF

This slow turnaround time can be detrimental to the available cash flow for businesses, especially those on a tight budget, large invoices, and many bills. There is, of course, always the risk of not getting paid or having to spend valuable time and money doing accounts receivable—and chasing people down for money weeks after the fact. 

Eliminate the risk of an NSF for businesses and consumers

Here at VoPay, we’ve found a solution to eliminate the risk for businesses and digitize bank payments. Our platform tells the business right away if there are sufficient funds in the customer’s account immediately—without ever sharing bank account details or introducing security risks.

VoPay uses open banking technology to authenticate EFT and ACH transactions instantly with lower transaction fees than a credit card. This allows businesses to reduce and prevent NSF fees, process payments faster, track transactions easily and stay on top of cash flow.

Learn more about VoPay today.

read more
Online Payments

Everything you need to know about EFT banking

EFT payments

Digital disruption has overhauled age-old processes in every industry to be more customer-centric, user-friendly, connected, and, above all, digital. For the financial industry, digital technologies such as electronic transfer funds, or EFT banking, helps banks meet rising consumer expectations and smooth over omnichannel experiences. Today, we’re focusing on the rise of electronic fund transfers (EFTs)

A 2018 trend report from Payments Canada found that while the number and dollar value of payment transactions using cheques and cash continues to decline over the years, debit, credit, and electronic fund transfers (EFTs) have seen an upswing. 

EFT banking stands for electronic funds transfer and is something that many of us now take for granted as a new norm. It’s the expectation that your salary was automatically deposited into your bank account. It’s a quick payment of your credit card or monthly bills online. It’s the tap of your debit card when you purchase your groceries or a coffee.  

In this blog post we will consider: 

  • What does EFT mean in banking?
  • The types of EFT payments
  • The difference between EFT and ACH
  • Pros and cons of electronic funds transfer
  • How to set up and manage EFT payments
  • Innovative EFT banking with VoPay

What does EFT mean in banking?

EFT banking is also known as electronic banking and is a type of online payment. As the name would imply, it’s the digital transfer of funds from one account to another without ever requiring a bank teller to assist or to create a paper trail. It allows businesses to transfer and collect payments between vendors and suppliers quickly and efficiently. EFT payments can be used instead of cash and paper cheques.   

The types of EFT payments

There are many different types of electronic fund transfers, some of which consumers and business owners use on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. One main distinction for EFT banking is whether or not it required human interaction to complete the transaction. 

Here are some main types and use-cases of EFT payments:

  • Direct deposit: Electronically pay invoices, bills, and employees via payroll systems
  • ATMs: Withdraw, deposit, check, and transfer funds between accounts electronically
  • Debit cards: Make purchases online and in-store, transfer funds between accounts and pay bills online all using your debit card
  • Wire transfers: Make large, infrequent purchases (such as a house downpayment) quickly and electronically
  • Online banking: Use your phone or computer to view and transfer funds, electronically pay bills, and download financial statements 

Likewise, there are pay-by-phone systems, direct payments between buyer-seller businesses, and electronic cheques (or e-cheques), which we’ll discuss in our next section. 

The difference between EFT and ACH

ACH payments are also referred to as e-cheques or electronic cheques. They are a type of EFT or electronic payment and are any EFT payments that go through the Automated Clearing House (or ACH) Network. This network is a secure system that connects all U.S. financial institutions and is quickly becoming the go-to payment method for transferring money. 

In fact, in 2018, the ACH Network handled nearly 23 billion EFTs, totalling a value of over $51.2 trillion. 

Pros and cons of electronic funds transfer

EFTs have many advantages, including:

  • Less costly than processing credit cards and cheques
  • Faster, more efficient transfer of funds
  • More secure than carrying cash and cheques (bank information on the bottom)
  • Easy to use 
  • Digitally connected 
  • Easily automated 

Some of the disadvantages of shifting business and personal banking processes to online systems are the same as upgrading any kind of process. It requires some time, research, and due diligence to look into the security features, cost-benefits, and efficiency and effectiveness of EFT payment options. Likewise, other systems such as automated billing, invoicing, and accounting systems may require updating and organizing digitally.    

How to set up and manage EFT payments

In order to accept and initiate EFT payments as a business, you will require permission and bank account information from the customer, business or vendor. If you’re using your bank account, you will need to have your customer, business or vendor fill out a contact and account information form. Once you have this information, you can set up the EFT payment via online banking. 

With this EFT payment setup, you can transfer funds from one account to another at an agreed-upon date. The amount of time to transfer funds depends on your EFT provider or your institution’s provider. Setting up recurring EFT payments is a great way to avoid having to set up payments and collect financial information. 

Innovative EFT banking with VoPay

VoPay’s payment solution, for example, allows businesses to accept, collect, and send EFT payments in a secure and efficient way. For our clients, that means the elimination of costly NSFs and slow cheque processing times. Our technology validates bank account information for EFT payments without ever seeing the customer, business or vendor’s bank account or financial details. 

Learn more about how VoPay is digitizing bank payments.

read more
Online Payments

Benefits of Innovation in B2B Payment Solutions

b2b payments

Elevating an accessible Canadian business payments landscape

Traditionally the B2B payments space has lacked innovation, with digital solutions primarily focused on serving the B2C market. Recent research from Ernst and Young LLP (EY) and Payments Canada supports this, outlining that Canadian businesses are currently spending up to $5 billion on processing payments. This overspend is mainly due to issues prevalent in the payments industry such as a lack of transparency, traceability and available data on payments processing.

Positive changes are happening in Canada’s B2B payments landscape, with FinTechs now challenging the status quo and modernizing payments by introducing new technologies. This includes open APIs that eliminating some of the payments industry’s key pain points. However, a recent survey by Payments Canada outlines that over 80% of Canadian small businesses still want more payment options to be available and one of the most important factors for these businesses is safety and security.

Reduced Costs and Enhanced Security with Business to Business Payments

With this in mind, what are the key benefits of digitized payments for B2B businesses today?  

New automated solutions, such as account-to-account transactions which enable B2B customers to make online payments without needing to handle a credit card, can cost 80% – 90% less than traditional credit card payments which typically place a heavy burden on a business’ profit margins. Moreover, with digital payments businesses can experience significant cost savings compared to traditional methods such as cheques, which incur high processing and material costs not to mention postal delays and the numerous security implications.

Recent research on global SMBs found that 59% identified security as a critical differentiator when selecting a Payment Service Provider. Digital bank account payments address security concerns by removing the vulnerability associated with providing credit card information and all transactions are completed with clear traceability.

Increased Efficiency and Transparency Through Payments Innovation

Innovation in the payments industry has enabled businesses to gain insight into the end-to-end transaction lifecycle and make payments in real time. This digitization of payments opens the doors for businesses to make faster payments and access much richer and more comprehensive data analytics. This can assist businesses by improving cash flow insights and predictability by identifying areas which drain resources and allowing them to reallocate where needed and streamline operations. 

Finally, payment solutions are no longer being designed with one party in mind and instead businesses are able to reap the rewards of increased efficiency and transparency whilst also being able to empower customers with quick and frictionless payment flows.

Overall, the B2B payments industry is only going to continue to evolve as we enter 2020 and at VoPay we hope to see more B2B businesses embracing the many benefits that these innovative solutions are finally affording to them. 

read more
1 2
Page 2 of 2