America's slow march towards faster payments has taken another step, with the Nacha setting out its plan to introduce same-day ACH clearing and settlement over the next few years.
Just two years ago, The Clearing House killed off a plan by Nacha to create a same-day ACH platform but the plan has been resurrected thanks to a sea-change in thinking among US financial institutions, which have been left behind as other countries have adapted their payments infrastructures to cater for the needs of digital consumers and businesses.
Nacha outlined proposals in March to move from today's single, next-day settlement to multiple, same-day settlement options but has now provided more details and released a request for comment from the industry. Interested parties have until 6 February.
The plan is to have a phased approach that would eventually, by March 2018, introduce two new same-day settlement windows for a total of three ACH network settlements for credits and debits every 24 hours. Transactions over $25,000 would not be eligible.
Under the proposals, all Receiving Depository Financial Institutions (RDFIs) would be mandated to receive same-day ACH files and to make funds available to their customers by the end of the work day. A Nacha survey puts the associated implementation costs at around $6.6 million for each large RDFI, while there are also operating and opportunity costs.
To help recover costs and ensure a fair return on their investments, RDFI's would benefit from an interbank fee of 8.2 cents per same-day transaction, paid by Originating Depository Financial Institutions (ODFIs).
Janet Estep, president and CEO, Nacha, says: "Being able to move payments faster to every financial institution in the US is critical to creating value for the consumers, businesses and government agencies who move their money via ACH. Requiring RDFIs to implement Same Day ACH ensures this value, and the use of an interbank fee supports this requirement."
Nacha's plans are part of a wider movement to overhaul the US's antiquated payments infrastructure. The Federal Reserve Banks are expected to soon publish a roadmap that could eventually lead to a faster payments system. Meanwhile, the US bank-backed ACH The Clearing House - which frustrated Nacha two years ago - is to undertake a multi-year effort to build a new real-time processing platform.