Richmond, British Columbia (PRESS RELEASE \u2013 January 20, 2011) - Sage North America today announced Sage Simply Accounting Direct Payments, a new connected online service that helps small businesses streamline and automate their payment and debit processes while connecting their desktop accounting application to a cloud-based service. Complementing Sage Simply Accounting's existing employee direct deposit service, the customer pre-authorized debit and vendor direct deposit services round up Sage Simply Accounting Direct Payments, which provides small businesses a full suite of payment options that offer more convenience and cost savings at the click of a button. "Despite the uptick in the economy, topline revenues for many businesses continue to decline or remain flat, so companies are looking at internal efficiencies to drive profitability and productivity," said Jamie Sutherland, vice president and general manager, Sage Simply Accounting. "Cloud-based services that offer electronic payments processing is one approach that more entrepreneurs are adopting. The numbers tell us that small businesses are transitioning away from paper-based to digital processes at an average rate of two per cent annually over the past decade in Canada, while ACH payment volumes are doubling every five years in the United States.ii By integrating the Sage Simply Accounting desktop application with the cloud, Sage Simply Accounting Direct Payments not only provides the value that small businesses have been demanding, but delivers real cost savings and increased flexibility." The Canadian Payments Association also reported that electronic payments represented 83.65 per cent of the volume processed through the Canadian automated clearing and settlement system. By 2015, the number of electronic payments is expected to surpass the 90 per cent mark in Canada. NACHA -- The Electronics Payment Association also reported that more than 18.2 billion electronic payments were made in 2008 -- an increase of 1.2 billion over 2007 -- while the 2007 Federal Reserve Payments Study revealed ACH payments had the largest compound annual growth rate of 18.6 per cent, of all U.S. non-cash payments. The latest in Sage's connected services portfolio, Sage Simply Accounting Direct Payments helps small businesses decrease transaction processing fees and makes sending and receiving money faster and more accurate. This not only frees up time for entrepreneurs to concentrate on their business, but it also decreases the number of delinquent payments, helping to maintain and improve cash flow. Sage Simply Accounting Direct Payments provides subscribers the ability to pay invoices by depositing money into their vendors' bank accounts and to electronically debit customers owing fees with a simple two-step process directly through Sage Simply Accounting 2011. Customers simply record receipt of payments to vendors or from customers and submit to a cloud-based electronic payment processing service, which handles the processing, clearing and settling of the payments for the user. Additional benefits of the customer pre-authorized debit and vendor direct deposit features in Sage Simply Accounting Direct Payments include: Cost savings -- vendor direct deposit eliminates the need to purchase, print and process paper cheques. Improved cash flow with better control of accounts receivable -- customer pre-authorized debit provides the ability to accept automatic payments from customers in a timely manner. Better service -- vendor direct deposit allows small businesses to make electronic payments to small vendors that do not meet the criteria for or are not set up for online bank bill payment services More options -- vendor direct deposit provides the option to make payments in either Canadian or US currency About Sage Simply Accounting Sage Simply Accounting is the #1 choice of Canadian small businesses and accountants,iii used by more than 500,000 Canadian businesses. Developed in Sage's global research and development centre in Richmond, B.C., the fully bilingual Sage Simply Accounting is known for its easy to learn, easy to use approach to accounting, while providing the most comprehensive features that small businesses require -- from start-up through to maturity. Sage Simply Accounting is supported by a highly trained team of customer service specialists in our Richmond, B.C., centre, and by 10,000 consultant partners located in communities across Canada who help thousands of companies daily to manage their business more effectively with Sage Simply Accounting. About Sage North America Sage North America is part of The Sage Group plc, a leading global supplier of business management software and services. Sage North America employs 4,000 people and supports 3.2 million small and midsize business customers. The Sage Group plc, formed in 1981, was floated on the London Stock Exchange in 1989 and now employs 13,400 people and supports 6.3 million customers worldwide.