A survey sponsored by NACHA, the electronic payments association, suggests that credit unions and banks both have room to grow in the most basic of electronic transactions, the directly deposited paycheck.
NACHA revealed the survey data at the NACHA Payments 2011 conference that the company was holding in Austin, Texas, last week.
The survey addressed why some businesses adopt direct deposit while others do not and why some employees whose businesses offer the service have started using it while others have not.
The electronic payments association conducted the survey in November 2010 of just under 2,300 small business executives. In order to participate, a business had to have more than one employee, use a business checking account most often for the company business and have less than $20 million in revenue in 2009.
According to the data, roughly half of small businesses in the U.S. use direct deposit to make their payroll, with the percentage of direct deposit adopters increasing as the revenues and numbers of employees at the business increased. This is largely to be expected, but the presence of direct deposit can feel ubiquitous so how limited it is can be startling.
For example, according to the survey, 34% of small business owners considering using direct deposit (and more than 50% of small business owners overall) said they don't deposit their payrolls electronically because no one has ever approached them to offer them the service.
The survey also found that less than 30% of companies that offer direct deposit have 100% participation. On average, most directly depositing firms have 83% of employees using the service. The survey found the leading reasons for employees not using direct deposit include preferring to receive a paycheck (51%) and employees not having checking accounts (30%).
These obstacles, particularly the lack of bank accounts, are large enough that NACHA estimated that some businesses may never achieve 100% participation in direct deposit and that moving unbanked employees from checks to a payment card have been largely unsuccessful.
But the survey offered some positive news too. Of the 48% of small business executives whose firms do not offer the popular payment method, fully 38% reported that they would do so in the future. If they do that, what does the survey suggest an enterprising credit should do to win those accounts?
First, meet with them. A shocking 30% of small business executives surveyed told researchers that they had never seen anyone from their financial institution at all, whether to talk about direct deposit or anything else.
Be ready to address the chief reasons small business executives say they do not offer direct deposit: too few employees (46%), employees prefer checks (28%) and no one has approached about using direct deposit (26%).