Modern society is completely dependent on payment flows, primarily transfers between the accounts of credit institutions. Cash payments between private customers are decreasing, with movement towards non-cash payments through bank account-based payment systems.
Corporate customers pay most of their trade business customers using credit transfers, direct debits or card payments. Cash payments between corporate customers and between the public sector and its suppliers of goods and services are today very rare, especially for repetitive and medium to large payments. Corporate customers, in particular, want to integrate their payments with their data processing systems. They want to be able to process payments in straight-through-processing (STP) mode. Payment transaction costs have decreased with the introduction of modern IT. The combined result is that it is more efficient for corporate customers to process individual invoices and payments instead of processing them in netted batches.
The general payment process and the parties involved can be described using a four-box model consisting of the payer (i.e., the buyer in the trade transaction) and the payer's bank plus the payee (i.e., the seller) and the payee's bank. The banking system and its interbank payment transfer systems provide the primary infrastructure for fund transfers between customers.