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Survey: Small-Business Owners Still Slow to Embrace Credit-Card Payments

Many small-business owners are not keeping up with consumer demand for credit-card payments, according to two surveys released Thursday.

Seventy-two percent of small-business owners who took part in the survey say they prefer to accept cash or checks as a form of payment over credit cards. Meanwhile, 64 percent of the consumer respondents report using less than three checks per month, and 52 percent of consumers ages 18 to 34, those of the Millennial generation, say they don't use checks as a form of payment.

The findings come from two online surveys of more than 2,000 consumers and 1,000 business owners in the U.S., commissioned by credit-card processor WePay and conducted by market research firms Ipsos and Harris Interactive in April.

The majority of Millennial respondents (69 percent) say they only shop at businesses that accept credit cards. Nearly three-fifths of respondents ages 35 to 44 and about half of consumers 45 and older also say they only shop where credit cards are accepted.

Bern Lefson, a certified mentor at SCORE, the nonprofit dedicated to helping small businesses that is supported by the U.S. Small Business Administration, says there is a consistent trend of consumers carrying less cash and making more transactions with credit cards. "The Millennials, especially, operate in a digital world, and that applies to almost everything they do," he says.

Small businesses may prefer accepting only cash and checks to keep their costs down, but Lefson encourages his clients to adopt alternative payment methods. This cuts down the risk associated with accepting personal checks, which may bounce, while providing the opportunity to enhance cash flow, he says.

If business owners don't adapt, consumers will decide for them. On average, 27 percent of small-business owners say they receive fewer checks today than they did three years ago, according to the survey.

Related: iPad, Tablet Point-of-Sale Systems Gain Popularity

Nathalie Pierrepont is a Silicon Valley-based freelance writer.

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