Intuit PaymentNetwork (IPN) is an excellent option for receiving customer payments via electronic check (ACH) or credit card. It is simple to use and integrates well with QuickBooks. I love to use it – ACH payments with only a $0.50 charge per transaction and no percentage! Let’s take a look at some of the improvements to the service from the past few months:
- Branding of Payment Request page
- Credit Card Acceptance
- Guest Payments
- Better Reconciliation (using QB 2012) without using Sync Manager
- Recurring Payments
An Overview of Intuit PaymentNetwork
There are a lot of ways to handle electronic payments with QuickBooks. The choice you use depends on your business situation. Some examples:
- Intuit QuickBooks Billing Solution for QuickBooks
- Intuit GoPayment (see my review)
- Nelix TransaX
- Bill & Pay
- Intuit PaymentNetwork
Each of these has different advantages, methods of integrating with QuickBooks, and fees. That is the tough part for the SMALL business – fees. If you handle a good volume of payments, your fees may be lower and more manageable. When you look at these various solutions, watch for these components of the fee structure:
- Monthly Fee: Many of these options require that you pay a monthly fee, which for the SMALL business can be a hassle. In some cases there are TWO monthly fees – one for the “merchant services” account (processing credit cards), one for the ability to collect payments online and manage the collection/payment process.
- Per Transaction Fee: Very often you will have a fixed fee that is added for each transaction.
- Discount Rate: This may be worded differently in different cases. This is a percentage of the transaction, and it can become a considerable cost. Your discount rate can vary based on the payment solution vendor, the volume of business you do, the size of your transactions, your ability to “swipe” the physical card, and more.
This service has been around since 2009 and has evolved quite a bit since I wrote my first review article about it. Why do I like it? Because there is no monthly fee, and no discount rate. My cost to receive a payment (via ACH/bank payment) is a flat $0.50 per transaction – no more, no less. This is the lowest cost payment solution that I’ve found. Intuit PaymentNetwork is integrated with QuickBooks – if you set it up and email your QuickBooks invoice to the client there is a payment link added to the invoice and to the email message. Very convenient!
To use this feature, first create an account at the Intuit PaymentNetwork site, then enable your Payment preferences in QuickBooks.
When you create an invoice you will see a check box in the lower corner.
When you print or email the invoice there will be a payment link included. The email message will include payment information as well.
Branding of the Payment Request Page
One recent improvement is the “branding” of the payment page. When a customer clicks on the payment link your company name is shown at the top. A very nice improvement.
Accept Payments via Credit Card
This recent improvement has proven to be very useful to me. Initially, IPN could only be used to accept ACH payments. The customer has to enter bank account information, and some customers aren’t comfortable with that. Now, subject to your credit approval, you can allow customers to pay via credit card.
If you don’t already have an Intuit Merchant Services account set up you can establish one through IPN. Payments received this way are subject to the typical merchant account fees (per transaction flat fee and a percentage of the sale), rather than the typical $0.50 per transaction for an IPN ACH payment. However, you don’t have to pay a monthly base fee. This helps if you are a low volume payment processor.
Having this as an option has been very beneficial to me. However, I wish that I could control which payment method shows as the default, as I would rather have the Bank Account option show first.
One of the drawbacks to IPN has been that the customer has to establish an account when using ACH payments. There is no charge for your customer to set up an account and pay this way, but some people resist that.
However, IPN has changed their procedures to allow a “guest” account, where the customer can provide you with the necessary bank information for an ACH payment WITHOUT having to establish an account.
Better Reconciliation with QuickBooks 2012
If you have QuickBooks 2012 the IPN/QuickBooks reconciliation function has been improved tremendously.
In earlier versions of QuickBooks you had to establish a Sync Manager connection between your QuickBooks desktop and the IPN services. Sync Manager is the tool that synchronizes your QuickBooks desktop database with “apps” in the Intuit App Center, and I have to say that it isn’t my favorite QuickBooks feature. Although there have been many changes over the past year, Sync Manager can be a source of frustration for many users.
However, IPN no longer uses Sync Manager if you have QuickBooks 2012. This is a GREAT improvement. The new process is much easier than earlier versions, and the download glitches seem to have been resolved.
From the Online Solutions menu, select Intuit Payment Network, and then select Download Payments.
If necessary, log into the Intuit PaymentNetwork with your account information. You will see a list of payments to be downloaded. Select the payments you wish to download and click Download to QuickBooks.
After your payments are downloaded to your QuickBooks file you can see the Customer Payment transaction, and the deposit. Note that each IPN payment will be a separate deposit in your bank account. There is no “batching” of IPN payments.
The Deposit is already recorded, but there is a slight problem you have to fix. The second line of the deposit backs out the service fee, but IPN creates and uses a new expense account called “IPN Fees.” I suggest you change the deposit transaction so the second line uses “Bank Service Charges” or whatever account you use for merchant fees.
This is a nice feature, although I haven’t had the opportunity to work with this yet. You now can set up recurring payments via IPN. Very useful.
Intuit PaymentNetwork works very well for many payment situations. Before you implement it I recommend that you study the fee structure carefully and think about how you want to collect payments. It doesn’t fit ALL situations, but I’ve found that it can be a useful tool to complement the other payment methods that I use in my business. The close integration with QuickBooks (now that they have improved reconciliation) saves time, and I do love that low $0.50 fee when a customer pays me via ACH.
Doug Sleeter contributed to this article