As an online merchant, where there is no face-to-face interaction during a transaction, a Request for Payment is one of the best ways to secure and settle a sale promptly.
Payment requests put you in full control of the payment process, streamlining your operations and making it easier to manage your cash flow. But an automated payment request can also benefit the customer, giving them a quick and convenient way to complete a purchase using a method that suits them.
In this article, we explain what a Request for Payment is, how it works, and the various ways you can initiate a payment request to your customer.
What is a request for payment?
A Request for Payment is any form of communication sent to a customer that both asks for and provides a way for them to complete a transaction.
These payment requests can be sent via email, SMS, or a mobile app, and typically contain a URL or QR code that, when clicked or scanned, takes the customer directly to a secure checkout.
At checkout, they will be presented with the amount that they need to pay, as well as accepted payment methods to complete the transaction.
Requests for Payment can be used for B2B and B2C transactions, and to collect both one off and recurring payments.
How does a request for payment work?
A typical Request for Payment involves the following steps:
- Step 1 - the customer requests a product or service from your online business
- Step 2 - you initiate the payment request by sending a message to the customer via the most suitable or convenient method. This message should contain identifying information for the payer and payee, banking details for both parties, the exact payment amount, the requested payment date, and a payment link to complete the transaction. Whichever method you choose for sending your payment request, you can automate the process by creating a request for payment template. You can then instantly generate RFPs using your template and automatically populate the fields with relevant details from your database. You can also automate these RFPs to send at the same time every week or month, which makes it easy to collect recurring payments from your clients
- Step 3 - the customer reviews the payment information that’s included in the message and then clicks on the payment link to complete the purchase using their preferred method. If necessary, they can choose to only partially settle the bill (for example, if they want to make a deposit or make an advance payment on a service that has yet to be provided) or not to pay it at all
- Step 4 - the payment is authorized and processed, and the funds are transferred from the payer to the payee. Both parties receive confirmation that the transaction has been successful
Ways to create a payment request
There are many ways to create a payment request, including:
Payment service providers (PSPs) make it easy for you to automatically generate RFPs and send them to your clients. They often provide templates, and give you various communication and payment methods so you can tailor your RFPs to your needs or your customers’ preferences. For example, if your PSP supports multi-currency payments, you can send your overseas customer a payment request that allows them to pay in their local currency and can then be settled in your domestic currency. For this method, you should ensure your business can accept credit card payments.
Sending an email to your customer that contains a payment request link is one of the most accessible ways to create an RFP. You just need to include the key payment details, as well as a URL or QR code that takes them to your checkout, within the body of your email. Alternatively you could use an email to send an invoice that includes a payment link.
Mobile apps can also be used for RFPs, whether it’s a banking app or third party payment platform that both you and your customer have access to. As long as the app provides some way to communicate with, or notify, your customer, you can use it to create a payment link.
Quick Response (QR) codes are increasingly being used in the payments space thanks to their speed, security and convenience. QR codes can be displayed within an email or mobile app interface and, once scanned by the user’s smartphone camera, will take them directly to a secure payment page where they can complete the payment within a few taps.
Using invoice software is a great way to automatically generate professional-looking RFPs, especially for B2B transactions, which might need to include a greater level of detail than a B2C payment. Invoice software provides templates that you can populate with relevant information, add a payment link to, and then send to your client for approval. This is much quicker and easier than including bank account details that they then need to manually enter into their online banking.
Benefits of using request for payments
The benefits of RFPs are:
- Speed - by initiating the payment, and giving your customer a way to complete the purchase instantly, RFPs can be settled much more quickly than methods that rely on the customer to initiate the transaction
- Convenience - RFPs can be automated, meaning you don’t have to waste time manually creating every single payment request. You can also automate them to send at regular intervals, making it easy to collect recurring payments
- Versatility - there are so many ways to create and send RFPs that you can find an option that works best for both you and your customers. This improves the chance that you’ll be paid promptly and builds trust with your customers
- Control - RFPs put you in control of the payment process, allowing you to more easily keep track of the status of each payment, better manage your cash flow, and make informed strategy decisions
Best practices for creating effective payment requests
Sending an Request for Payment is just the first step to ensuring your clients pay you promptly. You can ensure you keep the cash flowing while maintaining a great relationship with your clients by implementing the following strategies:
- Reduce the steps - the fewer points of friction there are in the payment process the easier it will be for your clients to complete payments. Ideally, they should just need to click the payment link or scan the QR code to be taken to a checkout page where, provided their details are store already, they can finish the transaction with a single tap
- Automate the process - PSPs and invoice processing software both provide ways to automate your payment requests by instantly generating and sending RFPs. This reduces manual intervention to the bare minimum and frees up your time to focus on more valuable or critical tasks
- Offer a variety of payment methods - you can make it as quick and easy as possible for your customer to reach the checkout page, but if they don’t find a payment method that works for them, the payment might end up being delayed or not completed. The more payment methods you can accept the better, especially if you have overseas clients or customers, who may have highly local preferred payment options
- Send reminders - you can also automate payment reminders, which are triggered if the client hasn’t settled the payment within a certain timeframe. You should include the deadline for payment prominently in your communications