Long-time NACHA president and chief executive Jan Estep will cede that role July 1 to chief operating officer Jane Larimer, the organization announced Monday. Estep will formally retire at the end of the year, NACHA said, following a confidential process she set in motion late in 2018 with NACHA’s board of directors.
Larimer, a 23-year veteran at NACHA, has filled a number of roles at the governing body for the automated clearing house network, including oversight of network rules and risk management as well as legal counsel. In particular, she has played a key role in the network’s transition to same-day processing, part of the overall U.S. payments industry’s recent trend toward faster payments. Same-day ACH credits took effect in 2016, with same-day debits following suit a year later.
Larimer was a “unanimous” selection by the NACHA board to succeed Estep, according to Monday’s announcement. “The … board feels that it has been very fortunate in finding a new CEO with Jane’s background in the industry, coupled with her leadership ability, experience, and values,” said board chair Laura Lee Orcutt, in a statement. “Jane is the best person to lead NACHA in collaboration with its board, members, and the industry.”
The Herndon, Va.-based payments organization began searching for a new CEO “earlier this year,” according to the announcement, and evaluated both internal and external candidates against a list of desired attributes drawn up by a board committee.
Estep, who took over NACHA at the end of 2008, has guided the organization through a key decade in which it has benefited from an increasingly rapid transition from checks to fully electronic payments. With endpoints at virtually all of the nation’s financial institutions, the ACH network handled more than 23 billion transactions last year. “Jan’s tenure has strengthened NACHA’s role in the payments ecosystem,” Orcutt said in the statement. “We want to thank Jan for the tremendous investment she has made in NACHA over the years.”
Estep tells Digital Transactions News she triggered the search for a new leader when she informed the board she planned to retire at the end of 2019. Estep will assume the position of president emeritus after Larimer takes over.
For her part, Larimer says one of her top immediate goals is getting NACHA’s business-payments directory up and running. NACHA last autumn acquired the Roseville, Minn.-based Business Payments Directory Association, an organization formed in 2016 to develop a database, or what it calls a public phone book, of business payees and payee information. The database allows payers to find the information needed to make payments to their payees electronically. The BPDA last summer began working with Discover Financial Services on a proof-of-concept platform for a B2B payments directory built on blockchain technology.
NACHA expects the directory will produce a “better corporate experience,” says Larimer. “Today there’s a lot of friction in business-to-business payments.”
Meanwhile, Larimer disputes some observers’ opinions that fast-growing real-time payments systems could take a bite out of ACH volumes. “I believe it’s complementary,” says Larimer. “End users use payments for a whole host of different reasons, and all of us like to have choice. There is always going to be need to use ACH.”
More broadly, Larimer intends to keep NACHA at the forefront of payment-industry changes. “It’s in NACHA’s DNA to keep that weather-eye out on the horizon, so keeping a further vision, a further view of what’s changing in the industry—how do we continue to bring stakeholders together to solve thorny issues,” she says. “That’s what we do.”
–With additional reporting by Jim Daly