Friday , February 22, 2019

As Volume Grows, NACHA Smooths Out the Same-Day ACH Road

With same-day automated clearing house transaction volumes building, the governing body of the big network that links virtually all U.S. financial institutions last month announced a trio of enhancements.

The changes are aimed at, among other things, raising the dollar limit on same-day transfers and making credit funds available faster during the processing day. The new features will take effect at different times, Herndon, Va.-based NACHA says.

One of the most important changes is a quadrupling of the dollar limit. Effective March 20, 2020, the limit on same-day transactions will jump from $25,000 to $100,000. This change will be especially important to institutions looking to handle more business-to-business payments, many of which were ruled out by the existing cap.

“We’ve been hearing from end-users,” says Jane Larimer, NACHA’s chief operating officer. “It’s the first thing they bring up. Twenty-five thousand dollars is too low for them.”

Another change gives institutions more time during the day to submit ACH transactions by extending the deadline by two hours to 4:45 p.m. Eastern Time. This move, which adds a third processing window, will be effective Sept. 18, 2020, and will be supported by the two ACH network operators, not only NACHA itself but also The Clearing House, a New York City-based processor owned by many of the nation’s largest banks.

“The Mountain [time zone] and the West Coast are really excited about [this change],” says Larimer. “It’s something we’ve been hearing about. As we move West, there was a need to add a third window later in the day.”

And in yet another change, NACHA says it will speed up same-day funds availability by mandating that funds for certain same-day and next-day credit transactions be available by 1:30 p.m., fully three-and-one-half hours sooner than under the existing rules. This move takes effect on Sept. 20, 2019, before the other two.

“There was a need to make funds available [sooner],” says Larimer. “That’s a big benefit.”

Larimer says it’s too soon to contemplate any further enhancements to same-day ACH, which the 44-year-old ACH network introduced for credits two years ago and for debits in September of last year. “Right now we’ll be focused on getting these [enhancements] into production,” she says.

Still, one possible candidate for a future change, Larimer says, has to do with processing for holidays and weekends. “It’s early days,” she adds. “Right now, our job is to get these [new changes] implemented as seamlessly as possible.”

The latest data from NACHA indicates there were almost 41 million same-day transactions in the quarter ended June 30, a 244% jump over the same period in 2017. Before the introduction of same-day processing, which is part of a faster-payment trend in the U.S. and world markets, ACH transactions typically settled the next day.

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