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AFP 2023 Blog

AFP 2023 Blog

AFP 2023 Blog

Payment Perplexity: Is There a Best Way to Pay?

Jul 17, 2023

By Greg Wilfahrt, Chief Marketing Officer at AP Technology

Modernized checks, same-day ACH, Real-Time Payments, credit cards, Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL), wire transfers, cryptocurrencies … businesses and consumers alike have a dizzying array of payment options from which to choose.

What are the best ways to pay? Are faster payments necessarily better? How does speed impact security and convenience? Let’s take a quick look at modernized payments.

Traditional Check Payments:

Despite the growing use of digital payments, check usage continues, albeit mostly by businesses in North America.

Pros: Check ubiquity, familiarity, switching inconvenience, payment scheduling and improved security are oft-stated reasons for continued use.

Cons: Manual processes, slow clearing times and well-documented fraud issues.

Faster Payments:

The demand for faster payments has increased in recent years, with Same-Day ACH and Real-Time Payments (RTP) being two payment examples with robust adoption.

Pros: Same-day clearing of ACH payments has resulted in faster access to funds. And that access has been made even swifter by the emergence of RTP, or near-instantaneous transfers.

Cons: Yep, fraudsters are there, too. The AFP Payments Fraud and Control Survey showed that fraud from digital payment methods has steadily increased since 2021.

Credit Cards:

Credit cards are still used widely by businesses and by consumers.

Pros: They provide instant gratification while deferring payment. Like checks, they can be used for cash flow management.

Cons: High interest rates, the potential for debt and the always-present fraudsters are reasons to give pause to credit card use.

Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL):

BNPL first took root overseas, and now, it has become popular in America — mostly with Gen Z and millennials.

Pros: This offering allows purchasers to split payments into (mostly) interest-free installments, providing convenience and flexibility.

Cons: BNPL can lead to impulse buying and debt.

Wire Transfers:

Wire transfers are typically used for larger transactions.

Pros: Wire transfers offer speed and reliability.

Cons: Wire transfers often come with large fees. And since transfers may require sensitive financial information, there is increased risk of fraud and interception.


Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum are garnering more attention as digital payments gain adoption worldwide. However, it remains to be seen whether they will emerge as a reliable form of payment in the near future.

Pros: Cryptocurrencies offer fast, borderless transactions, with decentralization being an attraction for some.

Cons: The combination of volatility and regulatory uncertainty are barriers to mainstream use.

So Is There a Best Way to Pay?

Payments are in the midst of remarkable transformations. Traditional checks are still in widespread use, yet they are slowly being replaced by faster, more eco-friendly, more technologically advanced payment methods. Each payment option offers its own benefits, yet there is still no one-size-fits-all solution. Consumers and businesses will continue to consider essentials such as speed, security, convenience, financial responsibility and even the environment when selecting their preferred payment methods.

Striking the right balance between speed and security will be crucial as new payment initiatives roll out. Whether it is leveraging the convenience of credit cards and checks, exploring the flexibility of BNPL services, or embracing cryptocurrencies as your go-to payment preference, secure transactions must remain a priority for individuals and businesses, while remaining open to the efficiencies of emerging payment methods. Staying informed and adapting to the ever-changing payment landscape are ideal ways to mitigate payment perplexity.

There’s a fun and easy way to discover the latest advances in the payments space, along with which payment types and payment protections are right for you and your business.

Join us at AFP 2023 in San Diego and we will navigate Payment Perplexity together! Learn how you can help protect your transactions with industry intelligence from the top payment experts in their fields during the session “Payment Perplexity: What's The Best Way to Pay?

In this session, payment experts demystify the current state of payment methods and discuss the latest developments in the payments space.


  • Jessica Washington (Asst. Vice President, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta)
  • Richard Love (CEO, AP Technology)
  • Deborah Baxley (U.S. Payment Forum/Partner, PayGility)

Moderated by: Greg Wilfahrt (CMMO, AP Technology)

See you there!

Check out the full lineup of AFP 2023 sessions on the Session Explorer.