Blog|5 min

6 Qualities Your ACH Provider Needs

Kelly Kipkalov
BILL, Sr. Director, Product Marketing

If you’re looking for an ACH provider, you don’t need us to tell you that the one you choose should be fast, reliable, and designed with your security in mind.

We’re betting you already knew that.

All ACH service providers should adhere to modern financial standards. (Yes, BILL does that.)

And, since ACH payments run digitally through the Automated Clearing House system, all ACH providers should be able to make those payments quickly. (BILL does that, too.)

So, let’s check those qualities off your list and talk instead about the things that really differentiate one ACH provider from another:

  1. Flexible control

  2. Smart automation

  3. Cloud-based mobility

  4. Artificial intelligence

  5. Accounting software integration

  6. Customer-first user experience

How to find an ACH service provider

First things first: if you only need ACH payment processing, and you have very few payments going in or out, it might be worth contacting your bank about setting up the few ACH payments you need.

That said, the right ACH provider can do a lot more for you.

In quantitative surveys, BILL saves its customers an average of 50% of the time they used to spend on business payments by making the process of paying bills (and keeping up with the accounting) faster and easier. Here’s how.

Quality 1 - Flexible control

Ideally, your ACH provider will actually be a payments provider (like BILL), giving you alternative payment options when you need to pay someone who isn’t in the ACH system so you don’t have to jump back and forth from one payment solution to another.

So, what’s the difference between an ACH provider and a payments provider?

An ACH provider only helps you make ACH payments. A payments provider puts all your bills and invoices into the same system, letting you manage them, communicate about them, approve them, and pay them, all from the same dashboard.

You can enter every invoice the same way, and BILL will send those payments out by check, credit card, ACH, or even international wire transfer.

Small businesses enjoy the benefit of spending a lot less time and money on bills.

Mid-sized-to-large businesses enjoy the same benefit, but their intrinsic payments volume leads to even more substantial cost savings.

Quality 2 - Smart automation

When you’re shopping for an ACH provider, make sure you understand how each platform actually works.

Is that provider offering a complete bill payment system that also manages approval workflows? Or do you have to approve every invoice some other way and set up each payment manually?

Are you entering the actual invoice into the system? Or just setting up the payment and storing the invoice somewhere else?

If you set up a recurring bill, what do you have to do if you ever need to stop it later?

Make sure you’re asking these kinds of detailed questions.

With BILL, every invoice is entered and stored in the system, along with every communication back and forth about that invoice.

You can set up some bills to be paid automatically, while others are thoroughly vetted through several different approvers before they can be paid.

You set the approval rules, and BILL oversees that process, making sure it’s followed.

Once a bill is ready to be paid, you can pay it with a few clicks. BILL makes the payment in whatever form you’ve chosen for that vendor, including ACH, a virtual card that hides your own account information, international wire transfer, or even checks that we’ll print and mail for you.

And, if you sync BILL with your accounting software, it will update your accounting records so you don’t have to enter that payment twice.

Quality 3 - Cloud-based mobility

Why should you care whether your ACH provider offers cloud-based mobility? For a lot of reasons. A cloud-based platform lets you:

  • Collaborate easily across a distributed workforce

  • Send and receive approvals remotely (even on a mobile device)

  • Access your invoice and payment records anywhere

  • Accept, store, and pay invoices digitally

A cloud-based system keeps your cash flow at your fingertips and your approval workflows moving no matter where you (or your team) need to be.

Quality 4 - Artificial intelligence

The BILL payments system has AI embedded in the platform and is leading the way in adding intelligence to your process and payments in the near (and far) future.

You start the process by entering an invoice into the system. You can do that by dragging and dropping it into the dashboard, uploading a photo from your phone, or just emailing it directly to the system at your dedicated billing email address.

With every invoice captured in BILL, BILL Artificial Intelligence reads the data from the invoice, saving you the trouble of manual entry, and offers it up for your review. BILL Artificial Intelligence scans for duplicate invoices, captures key invoice data like vendor name, due date, and amount, and even pulls in data from purchase orders.

Quality 5 - Accounting software integration

When you’re shopping for an ACH provider, be sure to ask whether it integrates with your accounting software.

In other words, when you make an ACH payment, can you sync the system to enter that payment directly into your accounting software? Or do you have to go into the software directly and enter that payment all over again?

Syncing saves a lot of time and effort as well as reducing the risk of accounting errors.

BILL integrates with Sage Intacct, Oracle NetSuite, QuickBooks, Xero, and many other accounting systems. Visit our software integrations page for a more complete list.

Quality 6 - Customer-first user experience

Finally, make sure you know what the system looks like. Does it make intuitive sense? Can you find what you’re looking for quickly?

Will it be easy to train new employees to use it?

A lot of financial software designed for business doesn’t make usability a high priority. That makes it look and feel complicated. It can also make it harder to implement.

At BILL, we care a lot about usability. We think our systems should be as easy to use as apps that are designed for people. Because businesses are run by, you guessed it, people.

So, before you choose an ACH provider, ask them if they offer an interactive demo or a risk-free trial. Make sure you know how that system is going to work for you out in the real world.

“I was blown away when I started using BILL. It’s so simple and intuitive. You don’t need to be tech-savvy at all to understand the navigation.” — Lori Brown, SVP and corporate controller, Merchant e-Solutions