May 07, 2024

Nacha Celebrates 50 Years of Payments Innovation

Nacha logo with Background

MIAMI BEACH, Fla., May 7, 2024 – In 1974 payday usually meant being handed a paper check—which was the same way most bills were paid. But in that year, a significant step was taken toward changing all of that when the National Automated Clearing House Association, or NACHA was formed. 

Fast forward 50 years—today Nacha is not only known for governing the thriving ACH Network, but also for developing rules and standards, providing industry solutions, and delivering education, accreditation, and advisory services. 

The year’s festivities kicked off in earnest today as Jane Larimer, Nacha President and CEO, joined two of her predecessors on stage here at Smarter Faster Payments 2024 to reflect on a half-century of payments innovation and to look ahead at Nacha’s future.

In the 1980s, Bill Moroney, Nacha’s first CEO, was responsible for the formation of Nacha as a standalone organization, development and promotion of Direct Deposit through TV commercials, and establishment of the Payments Institute. Moroney also garnered support for private sector ACH processing and noted how important that role continues to be to this day. 

“Nacha still stands as one of the best examples anywhere, in any industry, of self-regulation. Every financial institution is responsible for abiding by the Rules,” said Moroney. “The ACH Network shows the best of what collaborative behavior can do.”

The first implementations of Same Day ACH and International ACH Transactions (IAT), and the launch of the Accredited Payments Risk Professional (APRP), Payments Innovation Alliance and Phixius took place under Jan Estep’s tenure. She was appointed CEO in 2008.

“The ACH Network has adapted in ways that respond to technology and regulation, and has continued to evolve to meet changing end-user needs,” said Estep. “The solid foundation that we’ve built will continue to support us into the future.”

That sentiment was echoed by Larimer, who succeeded Estep and facilitated the exponential growth of Same Day ACH through numerous enhancements. Also under Larimer’s leadership, a risk framework and related Nacha Operating Rules were established, the Accredited Faster Payments Professional (AFPP) Program was developed, and Phixius grew to more than 5 million transactions. 

Larimer promised that the first 50 years are only the beginning for Nacha and the ACH Network. Nacha will continue to grow Same Day ACH through expanded processing windows and faster funds availability, build superior risk-management tools and resources, continue to foster an engaged and diverse payments community, deliver best-in-class payments education and accreditation programs, and continue to advance payments system innovation and interoperability. 

“The ACH Network continues to advance innovation and interoperability, and is the backbone of the U.S. economy,” said Larimer. “Nacha’s strong past and bright future will drive continual improvement of the ACH Network to benefit businesses and Americans.”

Payments also remembered former Nacha CEO Elliott McEntee, who was at the helm from 1989 until 2008. McEntee died last November. Among McEntee’s accomplishments were introduction of the Accredited ACH Professional (AAP), adoption of Cross-Border Rules between U.S. and Canada, development of Quest Operating Rules for electronic benefits transfers, and issuance of the first Risk Management Handbook and ACH Compliance Manual. 

The three leaders on stage recalled a quote from McEntee that remains true to this day: “The Nacha Operating Rules have an impact on thousands of financial it’s important to build a consensus where you are creating a win-win-win situation for large commercial banks and the smallest credit unions.” 

The event at Smarter Faster Payments 2024 also featured the debut of a new video highlighting some of the key moments in Nacha’s first 50 years.

You can watch the video below.