ACH Payments in Real-Time on the Horizon

Jun 05, 2014

ACH payments are vital forms of debit payment. ACH (Automated Clearing House) is a network that processes electronic financial transactions in the United States. The system is safe, reliable, and secure. It allows one-time or recurring debits from a customer’s checking account. The main problem with the system is the processing time.

The way the system works is that the business or individual consumer gives authorization for an ACH debit payment. The transaction information is uploaded to a processor and the funds are electronically debited from the corresponding checking account. Once cleared the funds are deposited in the merchants’ account within 7 business days.

Billions of dollars are usually in transit on any given day through the ACH non-real-time system. This is likely to change soon though based on payment industry experts. A recent survey by ACI Worldwide revealed that real-time ACH payments are likely to become a reality in the U.S. in the next two years.

There are some skeptics though considering that the NACHA only announced that it would study and implement a phased-in approach to real-time ACH transactions just this March. The survey results though are based on people steeped in the ACH payments world who generally have a good idea of what the happenings are in the area.

According to the results, 70% of those surveyed indicated that real-time payments will become a reality in the next one or two years. That figure increased to 92% who believe the change will take place in the next five years. Also, 86% indicated that real-time ACH will add “significant” value to businesses and corporate bank clients.

Surprisingly though many respondents rated social media’s importance to finance and payments as unimportant. Only one out of four payment professionals reported not having made a mobile payment.

The payments industry has been playing a game of catch-up in the United States. Momentum is gaining with mobile payments, EMV, and now ACH debit payments. The federal reserve, banks, and merchants are all pushing the industry to catch up to other developed markets.


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Having a merchant account allows an account holder to take advantage of merchant cash advances. When a merchant is approved for an advance, the business agrees to receive a lump sum of cash in exchange for an agreed-upon percentage of future credit card sales.

Pricing varies depending on the merchant’s industry, past credit card processing history, the type of business seeking the account, average ticket sales, and average transaction volumes.

Yes, EMB works with merchants who are building their credit, as well as those who have poor credit. EMB also approves merchants that have no credit card processing history and businesses that have lost their merchant accounts due to high chargebacks.

Several factors influence a merchant’s risk level. Though only one factor likely will not get a merchant classified as high risk, a combination of these may: business size, location, and industry, credit score, credit card processing history, a industry’s reputation for excessive chargebacks, a prior history of high chargeback ratios, and whether a merchant exclusively sells online.

Virtual terminals are stationed on a merchant’s website, making it easy for customers to make a payment or purchase online. Merchants or a payment processor can easily set up virtual terminals, so online businesses can accept credit and debit card and e-check transactions.

A merchant account is a business account with an acquiring bank. Without this business account, which actually works more like a line of credit, a merchant cannot accept and process credit and debit card transactions. Businesses need a merchant account to accept major credit cards via a static point-of-sale terminal, mobile card reader, or through a virtual payment gateway.

After filling out EMB’s simple online application and submitting any necessary, requested documents, many merchants get approved within 24 and 48 hours.

EMB specializes in working with high-risk merchants. EMB works with many merchants, including but not limited to businesses in these industries: gambling and gaming, adult entertainment, nutraceuticals, vaping and e-cigarettes, electronics, tech support, travel, high-end furniture, weight loss programs, calling cards, e-books and software, and telecommunications.

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