<- Back
November 30, 2023

What Is Bill Pay? A Guide for Small Businesses

Many small businesses have recurring payments to vendors and service providers that simply can’t go overdue. Online bill pay is a service designed to make on-time payments easier and less headache-inducing. It integrates with your business bank account (or credit card) to automate payment of your bills and invoices.

Businesses may also want to offer this benefit to their customers — and that’s an option, too. Bill pay services give customers the option to enter their payment details just once, and avoid the fees and penalties that may come with a missed payment. 

This is an especially valuable tool for managing subscriptions, though bill pay can make sense for any regular or expected payments. And automation isn’t the only perk here. Businesses that use online bill pay also stand to benefit from less paperwork, greater payment security, and easier cash-flow management.

  • How does online bill pay work?
  • Should small businesses use online bill pay?
  • 3 benefits of online bill pay for small businesses
  • Does bill pay have any drawbacks?
  • What does online bill pay cost?
  • How to set up online bill pay
  • Automate your payment process with Levro

How does online bill pay work?

An online bill pay service is a digital platform that enables businesses to schedule and automate recurring payments to their vendors, service providers, and other payees. 

Most bill pay platforms also support simple, one-time online payments, though businesses typically depend on bill pay to streamline and automate payments at scale.

Such services can be essential for good accounting. The best bill pay services not only automate separate payments but also seamlessly integrate with your business’s accounting software.

To set up a bill pay service, you’ll need to link it to your business bank account, business credit card, or some other payment method. This usually isn’t too difficult — Levro offers banking and payments from a single platform to make the set-up process even easier.

Of course, you may already be familiar with bill pay from your personal life. These days, online bill pay is a service offered by many financial institutions, including banks, credit unions, and credit-card companies. 

Should small businesses use online bill pay?

There’s a compelling case for using a bill pay service to set up and manage your small business’s recurring payments.

This is especially true if you work with (or plan to work with) a lot of vendors. It can be difficult to keep track of multiple outstanding payments at once — especially if you need to pay vendors from across the world in their local currencies.

We should mention here that the best online bill pay platforms give you access to a wide range of additional features that can help your business run smoothly. 

Take Levro, for example. On top of fast and accurate payments, Levro’s platform offers:

  • Automated tax compliance for business entities set up in the US, including collection of W8s and W9s from your vendors to simplify year-end tax filing.
  • A powerful API that supports tailored payment workflows.
  • Payments in 34+ different currencies for international businesses and startups that need to pay vendors in their local currencies.
  • Integrations with your existing approvals and accounting workflows to ensure a seamless payment.

If you think your business can benefit from any (or all) of the above, it may be time to consider setting up online bill pay. Sign up with Levro to get started with a free interactive demo

3 benefits of online bill pay for small businesses

If you already use online bill pay to pay off your credit-card and utility bills, you probably don’t need much convincing. But there are some benefits that more specifically benefit businesses and startups:

1. Bill pay simplifies reconciliation and cash-flow management

When you’re running a growing business, it can be difficult to build a reconciliation process on the fly. One of the worst ways to do it is to manually update a spreadsheet, as this is prone to errors, duplicate versioning, and other accounting headaches. 

Online bill pay can keep errors in check and streamline reconciliation by letting you track all of your invoices and payments from a single platform. It can also avoid some of the other issues that come with manual payments, such as paying too much or too little, or simply forgetting to make an on-time payment.

2. Bill pay automates approval flows

Even early-stage startups can benefit from setting up scalable approval workflows that scale with their business. This helps to ensure that no payments are made without the proper review. 

A bill pay platform like Levro’s can even give you custom controls and approvals for extra peace of mind. Here’s what the platform looks like in action:

3. Bill pay saves time and resources

Any time you don’t spend manually paying a vendor is time you can spend growing your business — and the same is true for your employees. 

But “time and resources” can be thought of in other ways, too. 

Think about security, for example. The more individual vendors you need to manage your payment account details with, the more opportunities for fraud. And dealing with fraud can cost not only money, but precious time and energy. Online bill pay helps to avoid this issue with common-sense measures such as encrypted payments and multi-factor authentication at both the login and payment steps. 

Oh, and paper is a resource, too! When you pay your bills online, you use less paper. 

Does bill pay have any drawbacks?

Though it’s not exactly a drawback of bill pay as a concept, it warrants mentioning that automating your payments comes with the risk of overdrafting your account. This can come with its own fees and penalties, which may be worse than the penalties associated with missing a payment to a vendor. 

So, it’s vital to stay on top of your spending and keep tabs on your outflows. Fortunately, most bill pay platforms make this easy, and will even remind you when a forthcoming payment is scheduled to be processed.

What does online bill pay cost?

The costs associated with bill pay vary by the platform. Some platforms charge monthly fees, set-up fees, or fees to integrate certain tools and workflows. 

These generally tend not to be too high, though certain integrations may require custom development that takes more time and money to implement. That’s why it’s best to start with a bill pay platform that has all the integrations you may need baked-in. 

Another factor to consider? Transaction fees, which can be especially important if you’re paying international vendors in different currencies. Some bill pay platforms may charge a significant markup on the mid-market exchange rate as a way of hiding their fees.

Our advice? Go with a platform that offers transparent pricing. For reference, Levro charges an FX fee of 0.25% on top of the mid-market exchange rate. Our rates are not only lower than those of many banks, but they also come with no hidden fees.

How to set up online bill pay

It’s usually pretty easy to set up basic online bill pay. To do so, you’ll likely need a few key items and details:

  • Login and account details for the bill pay platform (you’ll create these at the start of the process)
  • Your business bank account number (or the account number for your credit card)
  • Your business’s billing information (including your business address and account number)
  • Payment information for your vendors and service providers
  • Due dates and recurring-payment information for your vendors and service providers

You may need to take some additional set-up steps if you plan to use the full suite of integrations and tools some platforms offer.

Automate your payment process with Levro

Levro’s unified experience gives you the ability to automate and simplify your payments to vendors in more than 34 different currencies. 

If you’re looking for a bill pay solution that’s globally scalable, easy to set up, and compatible with your existing finance stack, give Levro a try. Get started with a free interactive demo today.

International Banking Made Easy
Get a Global Business Account in 24 Hours
Join Waitlist->