The Anatomy of a 99% Completion Rate

Posted by Checkbook on Jul 11, 2023

Most payments happen without payors or recipients ever having to think about them. And that’s the way it should be—in a perfect world, every transaction would be seamless. But it’s not a perfect world, and the reality is that only between 92–95% of payments are completed successfully. While at first glance, that statistic may not be jarring, but think of it this way: what if your paycheck bounced 8% of the time? Suddenly 92% seems a far cry from acceptable.

Checkbook’s completion rate is 99.97%, and we’re immensely proud of it. To understand why, though, let’s take a look at what a payment completion rate is and why it’s so important. 

When we say "completion rate," we’re referring to the percentage or ratio of successfully completed payments out of the total number of payments attempted, issued or processed within a specific timeframe. It’s a metric used to measure the efficiency and effectiveness of payment processing systems or workflows. This is particularly important for payment methods like paper checks, which are especially susceptible to error and fraud.

In the context of financial transactions, a check payment completion occurs when a check is received, processed, and successfully cleared by the issuing bank. It indicates that the funds have been transferred from the payer's account to the payee's account. A high check payment completion rate suggests that the checks issued are being processed without any complications or delays, indicating a smooth and efficient payment system. On the other hand, a low completion rate could indicate issues such as bounced checks, insufficient funds, errors in processing, or other problems that hinder the successful completion of payments.

The industry average completion rate is 92%. There are many points in the process where something can go wrong: a single digit inputted incorrectly in a routing number, and the payment is headed in the wrong direction. Most disbursement platforms are limited to one or two disbursement methods—usually only physical or digital—which means the customer is forced to choose a less-than-optimal experience (an underbanked customer, for instance, may be providing an account number that they haven’t used in years). Most platforms also require full financial information prior to payment. 

Checkbook does things differently. Firstly, we only require a single piece of information to disperse funds, which means that customers are more likely to provide information they’re familiar with: a phone number, for instance, or an email address. And instead of limiting recipients to two disbursement methods, we give customers a range of options: ACH, ready-to-print checks that can be deposited digitally, mailed and printed checks, push to debit, virtual cards, and Venmo. 

Our high completion rate means a number of important things: firstly, it equates to lower direct costs for the payor, such as reducing stop payment fees or refunds. Businesses can avoid expenses related to chargebacks, customer service inquiries, and administrative tasks required to resolve payment issues. It also means less indirect costs such as time spent on the phone, customer service hours, etc. It also means better CSAT from customers because the system operates more smoothly. Additionally, a high payment completion rate ensures a steady flow of revenue. When customers successfully complete their payments, it reduces the risk of financial losses and helps maintain a stable cash flow for businesses. This stability enables companies to meet their financial obligations, such as paying employees, suppliers, and operational expenses.

The difference between 92% and 99% is much larger than just 7 points—it can make or break customer relationships and affect your bottom line in myriad ways. A high payment completion rate brings stability, customer trust, operational efficiency, and direct financial benefits to businesses. It fosters positive relationships with customers, improves brand reputation, and contributes to sustainable growth and success. 

We’re proud to be in the 99% completion club, and will continue to streamline things for our customers to make payments ever more seamless and dependable.

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