US clearing house Nacha is consulting with members over the introduction of bilateral bank charging for exception processing over its national ACH network.
Outlining the proposals at Nacha's annual payments conference in Seattle, Leonard Heckwolf, SVP of Bank One's consumer payment solutions division and chairman of the Nacha board says that it is incumbent on all participants to ensure that ACH payments are of the highest quality.
"It is essential that the ACH network maintain the highest quality standards possible to support the new services that have been developed and the higher transaction volume that results," he says. "Quality increases confidence in using the ACH Network, and lowers financial institutions' costs for handling exception items."
The initiative comes as Nacha reports a rise in annual ACH volumes to more than 10 billion transactions in 2003. For the first time, the number of debits originated by commercial financial institutions exceeded the number of credits, largely due to the rapid growth of the five consumer ACH debit applications (e-checks) implemented since 1998.
The billing proposals, or Network Entry Fees, outlined by Heckwolf are initially designed to address unauthorised or administrative debit returns. Similar to rules implemented by other payment networks, a fee would be automatically assessed to originating depository financial institutions (ODFI) for every ACH payment that is returned for unauthorised reasons, and for every WEB and TEL payment returned for administrative reasons.
Nacha says that it has already received 200 responses from an earlier request for information and that it will be conducting two town hall meetings at the Payments conference to receive additional industry input.
Heckwolf also previewed plans for a Nacha "quality and risk management strategy", including proposals for the development of processes for shifting ACH debits to credits.