March 30, 2020

Why This is an Ideal Time to Prepare for the ACH Contact Registry


Michael W. Kahn

Michael W. Kahn


Back around Valentine’s Day, hardly anyone had heard of “social distancing,” and even fewer expected to be told to stay home until further notice. But by St. Patrick’s Day, that was the norm, and it’ll likely continue for a while. 

The point here is that sometimes things you never expect to happen, happen. 

And while the coronavirus is an extreme case, stuff happens every day. Like needing someone at another financial institution to answer a question. That comes up even when working remotely, as so many of us are doing. 

The current voluntary database that Nacha offers may be useful. Over 1,400 financial institutions already participate. 

But that number isn’t so great when you consider there are some 10,000 FIs in the United States. And a closer look makes it even less useful.

“We know that of the 3,800 contacts currently in the voluntary database, many of these are outdated,” said Jeanette Fox, Nacha Senior Director, Risk Investigation & ACH Network Risk Management. 

“While having two-plus contacts per institution participating is valuable, the real value is the accuracy of the contacts entered.” 

That’s where the new ACH Contact Registry is going to help. And while there’s a lot going on now, that should give even more impetus to prepare.

Under a new Nacha Operating Rule, the ACH Contact Registry covers both ACH operations and fraud/risk management. Your bank or credit union will need to register either primary and secondary contacts, or a department contact, for each area. The phone numbers and email addresses need to be monitored and answered during your normal business hours. The information must be kept updated. And because it’s a Rule, participation is required for any financial institution using the ACH Network.

Housed in Nacha’s secure Risk Management Portal, the ACH Contact Registry will be available on July 1, 2020, for institutions to log on and begin entering information. But this is the time to be thinking about what names, phone numbers, email addresses you will use. 

A good way to help work this out is to go to the current voluntary database, also in the Risk Management Portal. If your institution already participates, check who is listed. Are those the right people—or did someone retire three years ago? Is the contact information correct—or does someone have new extension? 

If you don’t already have your information in the database, put it there. Consider it a trial run for this summer.

“Entering, updating, reviewing contact information now alleviates some of the burden when the registry goes live in July,” said Fox.  

“Financial institutions that have already entered contact information prior to July 1 will find it easy to simply log in and designate their contacts into the mandatory categories: ACH Operations and ACH fraud/risk,” said Fox, adding that there’s no need to stop there. 

“Consider entering other, optional contacts,” said Fox. “While not required by the new Rule, we have built in optional contact categories to facilitate further communication between financial institutions.”

That includes folks who handle wires, checks, credit and debit cards, compliance, AML, legal, LOI processing, faster payments and treasury management. 

And if you think no one will ever need those contacts, it might be worth considering the unexpected.