What is Straight Through Processing and what are its Benefits to Small Businesses?

With straight-through processing, businesses can streamline operations through speedier financial transactions with fewer risks of human errors.

Many companies use straight-through processing or STP to help streamline operations, minimise inefficiency and boost margins. Based on the latest data from the Association of Financial Professionals (AFP), 47% of organisations use STP for payment management. Meanwhile, 44% use it for receivables management, which means that more and more institutions rely on this process to handle financial transactions and data.

Like other work processes, STP assists in the reduction of human errors, operational risks, and transaction time. Therefore, allowing business owners to focus on other critical aspects of business development. At the same time, it provides staff more time to focus on other essential tasks. It can also result in a better customer experience.

We talk about straight-through processing and other salient points about the process below.

What is Straight-Through Processing

According to Investopedia, STP or straight-through processing uses electronic transfers to process payments, and it typically does not involve manual input of data. Any organisation using the process must have the fundamental systems and technical networking to assist in efficient STP operations.

Companies use the STP method to speed up processing times of financial transactions. The primary aim of STP is to filter information across various points within an organisation, reducing the time needed in encoding the same data repeatedly and guaranteeing the complete processing of every transaction. As a result, errors in manual data entry are reduced and shared more quickly and securely.

STP (Straight-Through Processing) Vs. Traditional Payments

Now that you already know what STP is all about. The next thing you probably want to understand is the difference between STP and traditional payments.

Straight-through processing has massively helped businesses since first introduced in the 1970s. Since then, it has increasingly helped businesses. It has streamlined accounting processes, especially when it comes to payables and receivables. It assisted in the efficient collection and tracking of payments between customers and business owners, even from one business to another.

STP has also been instrumental in decreasing human errors, especially those that had to do with accounting functions. It has improved efficiencies in the cash flow and working capital of businesses. STP has also assisted in the improvement of business analytics. After adopting STP to its processes, organisations can track spending patterns and client behaviours and system or human errors and delays.

Meanwhile, traditional payment processing meant several departments were involved in sending money, with some initiating the payment and the others handling the receiving end. Payments were initially made over the phone, email or in-between software, taking days to complete.

The sender and the recipient usually confirm the payment through facsimile, email, or phone. These were then encoded manually into an internal payment system. Before payment was released, the encoded details still needed the confirmation of either a supervisor or another person at the management level to guarantee accuracy.

Before the advent of SWIFT codes and Automated Clearing House or ACH, telegraphic messages transmitted payment transactions that came with unique codes, the length of this process depended on the details, and initiation itself took hours or days to complete. It took longer for international payments because of the stringent requirements to complete a fund transfer.

Telegraphic transfers tend to be costly, prone to delays and errors. Because finance teams processed payments manually, it was difficult to predict when suppliers or businesses would receive payments. Therefore, resulting in late charges and penalty fees.

STP aided in optimising the b2b payment process, especially in e-commerce. Moreover, it helped reduce overhead costs, boost productivity, and improve relationships between suppliers and customers.

Benefits of Straight-Through Processing for Small Businesses

straight through processing

Understanding the differences between traditional payment methods and STP will help you decide which work best for your business. If you are still on the fence about using STP, below are several of its benefits for small businesses that may help make up your mind:

  • Everything that goes on with straight-through processing is entirely electronic. Payments are received faster because STP automates the process.
  • STP assists in the streamlining of the accounting processes of businesses. It also tracks and monitors payment collections between a company and its supplier or its customers.
  • Aside from automating several business processes, it allows immediate transmittal of information online and decreases the possibility of errors in payment transactions.
  • It minimises operational costs and reduces the time needed for payment processing, thus allowing companies to grow exponentially.
  • It comes with a system based on rules. Because of this, companies can track the progress of payment transfers in real-time.
  • It includes spend analytics to monitor customers’ spending patterns and behaviours, contributing to better marketing strategy and increased sales.
Techniques to Integrate STP Into Your Business
Cash Payment Redirects With the help of financial services providers, you can send payment barcodes to customers who’d like to pay in cash. These barcodes can be scanned at local retailers and initiate completed cash transactions in seconds. This payment is transferred digitally to your business without any extra processing time.
Automatic Payment Reminders You can make it more convenient for your customers to promptly pay their bills online by sending them automated emails, text messages, and notifications with secure links directing them to easy payment processing systems. Be sure to optimise the frequency and delivery times of these reminders so you can boost your response rates.
QR Codes on Billing Statements It is possible to convert conventional customers who prefer billing statements on paper. You can add a QR code to every account and transition to a digital payment process. Your customers can quickly scan the QR codes using their smartphones to an online portal that facilitates electronic and secure payments. This self-service option will help your customers save money for postage and checks and time in physically sending out payments. At the same time, your business will have faster access to funds.

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Aside from the benefits mentioned above, there are other things you might like to know about how other smaller businesses think about STP. This way, you can weigh both sides of the coin before deciding to use it.

  • The need for systems integrations may present straight-through processing as too restrictive for smaller businesses. On the other hand, larger companies, which can scale larger economies, may benefit more from the method. But, if you are a small business owner yourself, you must understand that technological enhancements are happening daily, and there will be a new accounting software to streamline small business operations in no time.
  • As a small business owner, you can fully benefit from the STP process if you can control the preparation and automation of your financial transactions. Remember that pre-validated payments will have a higher probability of reaching their destination. So, be sure to prepare beforehand by checking such details as bank codes and bank account data format. It is also best to ensure that the payee is the actual recipient of the payment transfer, avoiding the time and money lost from erroneous transmittal.
  • Electronic payments through your STP system can optimise your company’s payment processes. This will not only prevent human errors but will also boost security and minimize fraud. Electronic processes allow you to separate reliable transactions from erroneous ones. Your system will perform better through the fast processing of correct payments and the segregation of the ones that need correction. STP focuses on refining your process and delivering optimal results.

Once you have read all the information mentioned above, you might already have a decision on whether you’d go for the STP method or not. If you are looking for a system that allows automated payments or seamless international transfers, partner with a reliable company, book a demo with Spenmo today.


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Frequently Asked Questions

How is Straight-Through Processing (STP) used in E-commerce businesses?

E-commerce businesses need a multi-faceted transaction solution. STP provides this as it allows them to verify their customers online. They can then sell them products, facilitate payment transfers, and arrange product deliveries by clicking only a few buttons.

What is Electronic Fund Transfer or EFT?

Although EFT is not a payment type, it transfers money between two accounts. The accounts involved may be under one financial institution or bank or different. This transaction is done electronically, from start to finish.

Is it safe to use Straight-Through Processing (STP)?

Aside from speeding up payment processes, STP also provides increased security by eliminating entry points for breaches and manual encoding errors.

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