January 24, 2020

Making ACH Even Easier: Why We Need to Reduce Friction


Jane Larimer

Jane Larimer

President and CEO


Easy is in the eye of the beholder. Assembling Ikea furniture is a piece of cake for some; others think it takes a master’s in engineering. 

While we hope using the ACH Network is nowhere near as challenging, we know there can be friction for some. Nacha has some exciting new tools to reduce that and make the ACH Network even more user-friendly.


When the ACH Contact Registry opens on July 1, it will take a major step toward reducing what is often a pain point that comes with great urgency: finding the right person (or even a person) to contact at another financial institution when there’s an issue. 

In a situation where every second counts, a financial institution will quickly be able to get contact information for someone at its counterpart who is knowledgeable and able to help. 

And issues do come up. In fact, when Nacha issued a request for comment last year, two-thirds of those responding said they need to find a contact at another FI at least weekly. How easy is that? Not very. More than 90% rated that as a medium to very difficult task. 

The ACH Contact Registry is going to help with that. Every financial institution using the ACH Network will need to register and provide contact information by Oct. 30. 

It’s not a heavy lift. Yes, you’ll get phone calls (although they should now be to the right people or departments). But some day you might be doing the dialing. And you’ll be grateful that the other financial institution is in the Registry.  


Not too long ago, if you were sitting on the couch and suddenly blurted out, “Alexa, pay my water bill,” the rest of the family would have been concerned about you. 

Today, they wouldn’t bat an eye.

Virtual assistants are easy for consumers to use. But folks at FIs might be tempted to ask, “Siri, what SEC Code should I use for this?”

She’s not going to be able to help you with that. But Nacha can. 

Technology is constantly changing, and there are instances where it’s difficult to determine how to apply the Nacha Operating Rules. Alexa and friends are a good example of technologies that have developed recently, but that are not specifically addressed in the Rules.

One of our current projects involves looking at changes to the Rules that would facilitate the use of new technologies and channels for authorizing and initiating ACH payments. Nacha’s goal is to be able to provide a Rules framework that is more easily used when different technologies come into play. 

Additionally, the Payments Innovation Alliance’s newest Project Team will address the critical topic of voice-activated payments through industry education and developing standards and policies. 


As a consumer, paying your bills is super easy using ACH. But in the business world, it can be challenging for billers to apply bill and invoice payments.  

That’s why Nacha is developing Phixius, an online platform uniting technology, rules and participants to exchange payment-related information across various payment types. 

With Phixius, we are looking to streamline and modernize the payments process.

We are building it in response to industry calls to simplify and automate the process of exchanging payment-related information. Currently, the use of bilateral agreements creates inefficiency and restricts broader participation. Additionally, existing manual processing results in administrative errors, misdirected payments and opportunities for fraud. 

Phixius will allow companies to provide products and services that improve fraud protection, automate manual processes and improve customer experiences. Additionally, Phixius can be used to reduce the number of checks processed, and standardize information sharing. Companies will also be able to provide products and services with benefits including improved fraud protection and an enhanced customer experience, all through Phixius.