May 19, 2015
By John Stewart
The voting members of automated clearing house network regulator NACHA have approved a plan to allow for same-day settlement of ACH transactions, NACHA announced Tuesday.
The same-day proposal, which has been debated since its introduction early last year, received “overwhelming support” in the balloting, says a NACHA spokesperson. NACHA does not release specific results, she says.
In a key change to the same-day plan, NACHA has reduced a controversial interbank fee from the originally proposed 8.2 cents per transaction to 5.2 cents. This fee, payable by originating banks to receiving banks on each same-day payment, has stirred objections from merchants. They fear the fee will simply be passed on to them by their originating banks, much as they wind up bearing the cost of credit card interchange.
NACHA counters the fee is necessary to reimburse receiving banks for at least some of the costs they will bear for accelerated settlement. It says the new fee was arrived at by setting aside receiving institutions’ opportunity costs.
The favorable vote was not unexpected. NACHA said in March it had received mostly positive comments from ACH participants and expected to put the proposal to a ballot early in the second quarter.
“The financial-services industry has come together through private-sector rulemaking to increase the speed of payments,” said Janet O. Estep, president and chief executive of NACHA, in a statement. “Same Day ACH serves as an immediate action the industry has undertaken to modernize the payments system, and creates a building block for a variety of products and services. Same Day ACH creates value for end users through the certainty of its reach to all bank accounts in the U.S.”
The same-day plan is now expected to be implemented in three phases, with the first phase set to begin Sept. 23, 2016. This phase will allow same-day processing of ACH credits, which are used in hourly payroll, person-to-person payments, and bill-pay transactions.
Phase 2 will add debits, which are used in a wide range of consumer bill payments, and Phase 3 will usher in mandates for receiving financial institutions for faster ACH credit funds availability. Ultimately, the plan will add two clearing windows for ACH transactions, one that provides for a 1 p.m. Eastern Time settlement and one that results in a 5 p.m. Eastern Time settlement.
The successful ballot is a marked departure from a vote held in August 2012, when a previous same-day proposal failed to win enough support for passage. That result led NACHA to begin work on what became the new plan.
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