Going Green With Online Payments

Research suggests that U.S. consumers love environmentally friendly companies. But the prospect of “going green” can seem overwhelming to some small-business owners.

Perhaps you feel as if you have to make grand, costly changes to your operations, such as investing in solar power, buying office furniture made from bamboo and soybeans, or replacing your delivery vans with hybrid vehicles.

You don’t. One of the simplest, cheapest, and most effective ways to “go green” is simply to reduce the amount of paper that your business uses. Online-payment services like Intuit GoPayment can contribute to this conservation effort.

According to data from Javelin Strategy & Research, if every American viewed and paid bills online:

  • 800,000 tons of solid waste would be saved from landfill each year
  • 2.1 million tons of greenhouse gases would no longer be released into the atmosphere
  • 18.5 million trees would be saved from paper mills

One of the Fastest-Growing Areas in Business

Going paperless isn’t a new or revolutionary concept. Since email emerged in the 20th century, people have been extolling the virtues of a paperless world. But the idea is finally catching on.

“Electronic bill presentment and payment via the internet is one of the fastest-growing areas in business,” Nick Rini, a columnist for Telephony, tells E/The Environmental Magazine.

“…With more than 63 billion checks written annually, where 80 percent is some sort of bill payment (either business-to-business or consumer-to-business) substantial cash-management benefits and customer-service opportunities exist for those who use interactive billing and payment.”

A Means to Save Time and Money

Beyond helping the environment, going digital supports your small business’s bottom line. Rini estimates that U.S. companies could save $200 million collectively each day if they switched to paperless billing. Companies can also get paid faster than when they must print, fold, stuff, meter, sort, and mail paper bills, he says.

Beyond the cost savings of using less paper, ink, postage, and administrative time processing paper bills, your paperless approach is likely to appeal to customers. Thirty-nine percent of consumers and 44 percent of product purchasers view a company’s reputation for sustainability as “very important” when making purchases for the workplace, according to a 2011 survey by United Stationers [PDF].

The takeaway here is that if you offer online payments, you’ll make your operations a little greener — and appeal to more customers, save money, and help protect the environment. That’s a win-win-win in our book.

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