NACHA Pushes for Same-Day ACH Payments with Three-Step Plan (March 31, 2014)
NACHA wants to help move the U.S. toward same-day ACH payments using a phased approach to replace today’s sluggish system that can take three to five days for electronic payments to clear.
Many reloadable prepaid programs rely on the ACH for card loads. Same day, real-time loads, as proposed by NACHA, may reduce prepaid card issuers’ risks, because many issuers provide immediate access to funds even if the funds haven’t yet been credited through the ACH.
The Herndon, Va.-based organization this month proposed introducing same-day payment-settlement windows for ACH payments, including payroll, P2P and expedited bill pay. A second phase would introduce same-day ACH payments for routine bill payments automatically debited from consumer accounts. The third phase would improve ACH payment service levels and reduce fraud risk by adding a second same-day settlement window and accelerating funds availability, according to NACHA.
“A phased implementation enables us to introduce new capabilities more quickly and then continue to build over time, creating value for all participants at each step of the way,” Janet Estep, NACHA president and CEO, said in a press release. NACHA is launching a study to assess costs and potential transaction volume for same-day ACH, and plans to eventually seek a vote from its members on the proposal.
The U.S. lags behind other nations that steadily are introducing same-day electronic payments, according to a Federal Reserve Banks paper published last year sketching plans to build a near-real-time U.S. electronics payments system by 2023. In “Payment System Improvement,” the Fed suggests broadly adopting near-real-time payments could enable last-minute payments, reduce fraud and enhance cash management for consumers, businesses and governments, spur innovation in mobile payments, and enhance U.S. global competitiveness.