A survey of SMEs by Sage Ireland has revealed that 60% of business are not aware of the National Payments Plan (NPP). 

The NPP is a government initiative which aims to increase the use of electronic forms of payments such as debit cards and electronic banking. It is estimated that the initiative will make savings of €1bn to the Irish economy on an annual basis.

The survey also revealed that 70% of businesses have not heard of eDay. eDay is one of five initiatives within the NPP which aims to reduce cheque usage in the economy. 

77% of businesses surveyed use cheques on at least a monthly basis, and from September 19, 2014 all central government, local authorities and State agencies will no longer issue or accept business cheques.

"SMEs are the biggest users of cheques accounting for 43% of cheques received in Ireland. Businesses need to ensure they are prepared for the eDay change", said Simon Bell, Commercial Manager of Sage Ireland.

The survey also found that a significant number of working hours are lost by businesses lodging cheques, with 33% of businesses claiming it takes an hour or more for a member of staff to lodge cheques to the bank. 

Sage estimates that a small business owner sending and receiving six cheques per week could save almost €5,000 per year by switching to ePayments.

The Central Bank led and government backed initiative aims to double the level of e-payments in Ireland by 2015. At present, Ireland is one of the lowest users of ePayments in Europe.