Payment methods: Options every small business owner needs to evaluate

Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

By Michelle van Schouwen

Taking the time to evaluate and update the ways customers can pay you is a win. Whether your customers are individuals or entities, offering more convenient ways to pay can put money in your bank account faster and more efficiently – and even increase your sales. Many of the newer solutions let you reduce or even avoid the merchant fees that credit cards charge you. Here are a few of the popular alternative payment options you may want to add as we continue to move toward a cashless – and largely checkless –  society.

Google Pay, Apple Pay, Venmo, and similar are newer cashless, cardless solutions that typically cost merchants less than credit cards, and in some cases nothing. They are increasingly popular, especially with younger consumers. Once established, they are easy, Hi secure, and get you money in an instant. Each link above takes you to the company’s relevant information for businesses, to allow you to compare and decide.

PayPal is a well-established, web-based payment platform that allows you to establish a business account. Many people are familiar with and frequently use PayPal, which is an advantage. Its rates for merchants are more akin to credit cards than some of the other options you’ll consider.

Quickbooks online billing and payment is fast and easy, allowing you to set up both online and on-site interfaces, and letting customers pay by card or e-check.

Automated Clearing House (ACH) payments are increasingly popular among businesses seeking a quick, secure, and paperless solution. These are easy for B2B companies, because they can be arranged even with traditional billing. You can also work with an ACH payment processor to streamline your acceptance of ACH payments.

Zelle is offered by institutions such as Bank of America, Chase, Wells Fargo, U.S. Bank, Citi, and others. Zelle does not offer specific features for business, but you can accept payments with your business account if your customer also has access to Zelle. Banks may impose monetary limits on payments, and may charge a fee. Check with your bank about using Zelle.

Cryptocurrency payments are made secure through Coinbase Commerce, which allows you to accept Ethereum, Bitcoin, and eight other popular cryptocurrencies, and to convert them to cash when you desire. This works because Coinbase tracks the changes in crypto values instantaneously. This payment solution is probably best suited for businesses that already understand crypto markets, which are volatile.

The list above is not comprehensive, and new alternative payment options are developed all the time. Depending on the solution you choose, and your own business needs, you may want to use an integration service to establish a secure and efficient software interface. A simple internet search will provide you with a list of options. But start with information from the alternative payment system website and customer support because some of these solutions are fairly easy to implement.


Michelle van Schouwen is principal of Q5 Analytics, providing advocacy and communications for climate change mitigation and adaptation. For 32 years, Michelle was president of van Schouwen Associates, LLC (vSA), a B2B marketing company. In 2017, van Schouwen Associates was acquired by Six-Point Creative Works, Inc. of Springfield, MA. Michelle is available for speaking engagements on topics including her work on climate crisis mitigation and Florida coastal water issues. She speaks to business and student groups about marketing launches and entrepreneurship and works with start-ups to support their development.


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