Nearly 16 billion automated clearing house (ACH) payments were made in 2006, a 14.5 percent increase over 2005, according to statistics compiled by NACHA - The Electronic Payments Association and issued today at the PAYMENTS 2007 conference.
"Annual ACH payment volume continues to double every 5 years, and growth is occurring across all transaction categories," said Elliott C. McEntee, President and CEO of NACHA. "The growth of the ACH Network shows the value that financial institutions and their customers experience from ACH payments."
The nation's financial institutions originated 15.4 percent more ACH payments in 2006 than in 2005. The number of these payments was 14.98 billion, a jump of more than 2 billion over 2005, and valued at $30.3 trillion. Inter-bank ACH payments -- those sent from one financial institution to another -- increased by 16.5 percent in 2006; on-us payments -- those that remain within a single financial institution -- increased by 12.2 percent.
The remaining ACH payments were originated by the Federal government, which exceeded 1 billion ACH payments in a year for the first time. The Federal government's ACH volume was up 2.8 percent over 2005, and valued at $3.5 trillion.
ACH payments include Direct Deposit of payroll, Social Security benefits and tax refunds, Direct Payment of consumer bills, bill payments by Internet and telephone, check conversion, business-to-business payments, and Federal tax withholdings.
American consumers use the ACH Network primarily to pay bills automatically and electronically, and to receive income and benefit payments via Direct Deposit. NACHA estimates that 7.5-8.0 billion consumer bills were collected via the ACH Network in 2006, including pre-authorized debits, Internet and telephone payments, and checks converted into ACH payments.
Annual volume for Accounts Receivable (ARC) check conversion grew by an estimated 700 million payments to 2.8 billion, an increase of 32 percent. ARC accounted for 35 percent of financial institutions' ACH transaction growth in 2006.
Internet-initiated ACH payments (WEB) grew by an estimated 35 percent to 1.8 billion. NACHA estimates that 85 percent of Internet-initiated ACH payments are to pay bills via companies' or billing services' web sites, and 10 percent are to transfer funds.
The number pre-authorized, automatic bill payments -- known as Direct Payment -- increased by 6.1 percent to 3.3 billion payments.
Direct Deposit is still the most widely used type of ACH payment. The number of Direct Deposits in 2006 increased by 5.5 percent to 4.7 billion payments. Direct Deposit is used for payroll, expense and travel reimbursement, pension and annuity payments, interest payments, retirement and mutual fund distributions, Social Security, Veterans and other government benefits, and tax refunds. The average dollar amount of a Direct Deposit was $1,325.
American businesses and governments use the ACH Network for payments to and from trading partners, vendor payments, business-to-government tax withholdings, intra-company cash management transfers, and to exchange remittance information regarding payments.
The total number of these business-to-business ACH payments grew to 2.3 billion in 2006, up 10.9 percent over 2005. Financial electronic data interchange -- the electronic exchange of payment-related information or financial-related documents in standard formats between business partners on the ACH Network -- grew by 8.7 percent in 2006. In 2006 there were 995 million EDI-formatted remittance records accompanying ACH payments. The number of financial EDI payments in 2005 was 288 million, up 12.6 percent over 2005.