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ACH Payments in Real-Time on the Horizon

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.