If you are thinking about (or already are) leveraging payment automation in your accounts payable (AP) process, you’re in good company.
Successful businesses understand that with the right platform, you can automate payments to your suppliers, better manage your cash, and mitigate risks.
But with the increasing movement toward an electronic, interconnected and mobile infrastructure, it’s critical that electronic payments work safely and efficiently for all users.
That’s why the Automated Clearing House (ACH) Network is so important. Here’s what you need to know.
What is the Automated Clearing House Network?
By using batch processing and a store-and-forward system, the ACH Network is at the center of commerce in the U.S., moving money and information from one bank account to another through Direct Deposit and Direct Payment via ACH transactions, including:
- ACH credit and debit transactions
- recurring and one-time payments
- government, consumer and business-to-business transactions
- international payments
- payments plus payment-related information
Each year the ACH network moves more than $41 trillion and 24 billion electronic financial transactions.
As such, it is now one of the largest, safest and most reliable payment systems in the world, creating value and enabling innovation for all participants.
More About ACH
The ACH Network is a batch processing system in which financial institutions accumulate ACH transactions throughout the day for later batch processing.
Instead of using paper to carry necessary transaction information – such as with checks – ACH Network transactions are transmitted electronically, allowing for faster processing times and cost savings.
Types of Transaction
The ACH Network processes two types of transactions: Direct Deposits via ACH, and Direct Payments via ACH.
- Direct Deposit via ACH is the deposit of funds for payroll, employee expense reimbursement, government benefits, tax and other refunds, and annuities and interest payments. It includes any ACH credit payment from a business or government to a consumer.
- Direct Payment via ACH is the use of funds to make a payment. Individuals or organizations can make a Direct Payment via ACH as either an ACH credit or ACH debit.
- A Direct Payment processed as an ACH credit pushes funds into an account. An example of this is when a consumer initiates a payment through his/her bank or credit union to pay a bill.
- A Direct Payment processed as an ACH debit pulls funds from an account. An example of this is when a consumer establishes a recurring monthly payment for a mortgage or utility bill, and his/her account is debited automatically.
- ACH credit and ACH debit transactions process quickly. Settlement, or the transfer of funds from one financial institution to another to complete the transaction, generally happens next day.
- Specifically, the NACHA Operating Rules require that ACH credits settle in one to two business days and ACH debits settle on the next business day. Recent enhancements to the NACHA Operating Rules now enable same-day settlement of virtually all ACH transactions.
ACH Network Fun Facts
- ACH Network volume grew to more than 25 billion electronic payments, an increase of more than 5 percent over 2015.
- The total dollar value of ACH Network transactions was more than $43 trillion, an increase of more than 5 percent over 2015.
- There were 4.7 billion WEB transactions, which account for 23 percent of overall ACH Network volume.
- The volume of B2B transactions increased 5.2 percent over 2015.
- There were 6.1 billion Direct Deposits, an increase of more than 5 percent over 2015.