May 10, 2024

Nacha CEOs Past and Present Join in a 50th Anniversary Celebration

image of nacha ceos past and present

MIAMI BEACH, Fla.—A little reminiscing, a little crystal ball gazing, and a little memorializing marked the start of Smarter Faster Payments 2024, as part of Nacha’s 50th anniversary celebration.

Jane Larimer, Nacha President and CEO, was joined on stage here May 7 by Bill Moroney, Nacha’s first CEO, from 1985 to 1988, and Jan Estep, CEO from 2008 to 2019. 

Back in 1974, Moroney was in the media relations department of the American Bankers Association and recalled being told, “We need you to write a press release about this new organization we’re setting up as a unit inside ABA. Long story short, the headline of the press release I wrote was, ‘CACHA, GACHA, UMACHA and NEACH Form NACHA.’ The next day, the American Banker wrote a story about the headline, not what Nacha was.”

Catchy headlines aside, Moroney recalled Nacha’s formative years were all about “make the rules work, gain acceptance, and convince corporations that they needed this. And the rest is history.”

Same Day ACH got its start during Estep’s tenure. She recalled it was “a huge process for the industry to implement Same Day ACH all in the same day,” but said the real “key milestone” was the process to get there, with consensus building at the heart of it. Estep called it a true representation of “Nacha listening to the industry and responding.”

Larimer’s tenure as CEO began in 2019. But she started at the association 28 years ago, when CEO Elliott McEntee hired her as Nacha’s first in-house counsel. And so, Larimer has actively participated in many of the milestones under both McEntee and Estep, before presiding over several of her own. Those include several notable Same Day ACH enhancements, a new Risk Management Framework and the Risk Retreat added to TPI, creation of the Accredited Faster Payments Professional (AFPP) and 5 million Phixius transactions. But as Nacha turns 50, Larimer is also focused on the future and “continuing to build on this great foundation that we’ve had.” 

“I’m just going to take something that we say about the modern ACH Network, which is it’s thriving, and say I think in five years Nacha and the ACH Network will be thriving,” said Larimer. “There are many opportunities.”

The CEOs were joined by moderator Joe W. Hussey, Senior Vice President, Payables & Receivables, Global Treasury Management, Wells Fargo, and Nacha Chairperson. The panel also took a few moments to remember McEntee, who was CEO from 1988 until 2008. McEntee died last November.

“Elliott was always encouraging of creativity, learning—get out there and learn everything you can possibly learn to understand how it works—and problem solving,” said Larimer, noting McEntee walked the walk.

“He got together with folks that he knew in the federal government and they talked and they solved a big problem with food stamps, and created the Quest Operating Rules which were moving paper food stamps to card-based payments,” said Larimer. 

Moroney recalled how his successor “always had sort of a twinkle in his eye.” 

“He found different, unusual ways to make a point,” Moroney said. 

Estep, recalling a six-month overlap between the time she joined Nacha and McEntee left, said, “Elliott was awfully gracious in sharing his knowledge that he had acquired over 20 years at the helm of Nacha. So, I spent a lot of time picking his brain.”