December 14, 2021

New Nacha Rules: The Year in Review and the Year Ahead

It’s often said that the Nacha Operating Rules are a living document, always changing, never stagnant. There was abundant proof of that in 2021, as seven Rules changes took effect, and 2022 is shaping up to be another busy year.

First, let’s look at some of this year’s changes in chronological order. 

  • Expanded Same Day ACH Hours (effective March 19, 2021). A new third window allows Same Day ACH payments to be submitted to the ACH Network two hours later, until 4:45 p.m. ET. With this enhancement, ACH payments now settle four times a day. 
  • Supplementing Fraud Detection Standards for WEB Debits (effective March 19, 2021). Under existing Rules, Originators of WEB debit entries were required to use a “commercially reasonable fraudulent transaction detection system” to screen those entries for fraud. The new Rule supplemented this requirement by making it explicit that “account validation” is part of a “commercially reasonable fraudulent transaction detection system.” 
  • Differentiating Unauthorized Return Reasons—Phase Two (effective April 1, 2021). R11 returns became covered by the existing Unauthorized Entry Fee. It was implemented by the ACH Operators and is billed/credited on their monthly statement of charges.
  • Limitation on Warranty Claims (effective June 30, 2021). This Rule establishes specific time periods for RDFIs to make claims based on unauthorized entries and brings the ACH Network in line with other payment systems that have time limits.
  • Supplementing Data Security—Phase One (effective June 30, 2021). The existing ACH Security Framework Rule, including its data protection requirements, now explicitly requires large, non-FI Originators, Third-Party Service Providers and Third-Party Senders to protect deposit account information by rendering it unreadable when it is stored electronically. Phase One applied to those with annual ACH volume of 6 million or more transactions.
  • Reversals and Enforcement (effective June 30, 2021). Permissible reasons for a reversal were expanded to include a “wrong date” error. Formatting requirements for reversals—beyond the current standardized use—were established, and an RDFI is now explicitly permitted to return an improper reversal. 
  • Meaningful Modernization (effective Sept. 17, 2021). “Alexa, pay my electric bill” quickly became a common request that led to questions about how to handle it. That, in part, led to Meaningful Modernization, a set of Rules that modernized aspects of ACH authorizations and other processes to improve the ACH user experience. 

The new year is right around the corner, and it’s bringing changes to the Nacha Rules. Here’s what’s on deck for 2022.

  • Increased Same Day ACH Dollar Limit (effective March 18, 2022). The dollar limit for each Same Day ACH payment will increase from $100,000 to $1 million. 
  • Supplementing Data Security Requirements—Phase Two (effective June 30, 2022). This is the second part of the Rule which took effect in March 2021 (see above). It will now apply to those with annual ACH volume of 2 million or more transactions. 
  • Third-Party Sender Roles and Responsibilities (effective Sept. 30, 2022). These Rules will further clarify the roles and responsibilities of Third-Party Senders (TPS) in the ACH Network by addressing the existing practice of Nested Third-Party Sender relationships and making explicit and clarifying the requirement that a TPS conduct a Risk Assessment.

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