Tuesday , November 24, 2020

Nacha Is Building Phixius, a Trusted Conduit for Payment-Related Information

A platform to help ensure payments are made to the proper entity is preparing for a May debut. Dubbed Phixius, the Nacha-developed platform will provide a way to enable the secure sharing of payment-related information.

That’s important because the platform, announced this week, could save businesses time in vetting new payees and ensuring the payment is properly made, Nacha says. Phixius will not be a conduit for payments.

Phixius supports payment information shared between payees and payers and can include instructions for multiple payment types, including ACH, wire, card, and others, says George Throckmorton, Nacha managing director and executive director of Afinis Interoperability Standards. “It’s within the instructions that the payment type is specified.” Afinis is a standards organization under the auspices of Herndon, Va.-based Nacha, the rules-setting organization for the ACH.

Phixius, which Ernst & Young LLP is helping develop, will be the enabler for credential-service providers and will authenticate their customers and establish trusted information about them, such as mailing address and telephone number, Throckmorton says. Credential-service providers will provide downstream services to the business, which likely won’t even be aware of Phixius, he says. 

In one possible use case, an employee in an accounts-payable department needs to issue a check to a new vendor, but the vendors needs to be added to the company’s master list of accounts. As things stand now, Throckmorton says that process can be time-consuming—typically businesses have approximately 3,000 accounts on the master list, he says. If the vendor already is included in the network the company uses to issue payments, it’s easy, he says. If not, then someone has to enroll the vendor, meaning the employee has to find the relevant data.

That’s where a credential-service provider connected to Phixius can expedite the process, Throckmorton says. “They can strongly authenticate with their customers and thereby they know the truth,” he says of the credential-service providers. They then, within moments, can share that trusted information with their client so a payment can be issued. It automates a task that currently is a manual one, Throckmorton says.

And if the provider does not have the vendor’s trusted information, it can connect to Phixius and check if another Phixius provider might have the information, he says. “Once found, Phixius can arrange it so the information is provided to the new supplier.”

The two roles for Phixius are to enable the sharing of this trusted information and to ensure the information is up to date, says Throckmorton.

It will accomplish the latter by sending notifications to credential-service providers whenever the trusted information for a participant is updated, Throckmorton says. That will be made possible by using blockchain technology. “Because we have an ongoing ledger to protected information, blockchain enables things like that to happen,” he says.

Phixius also will incorporate application programming interface technology and rely on its Afinis Interoperability Standards to help ensure the system works across users. There will be a fee to connect and use Phixius, but Throckmorton says that is in development.

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