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How Do ACH Payments Work and Are They Safe?

How Do ACH Payments Work and Are They Safe?

There’s a greater emphasis these days on expanding payment channel options. As a result, B2Bs, B2Cs and software companies with integrated payments alike are augmenting their credit card, debit card, cash, and check options with ACH payments.

According to the United States Federal Reserve, there are tens of billions of ACH payments made every year. Conceived in the early 1970s, an Automated Clearing House transfer is a way of electronically moving money between accounts at different banks. These transfers allow you to receive or send money safely and conveniently.

You might even be using ACH payments without realizing it. For example, if you’ve ever been paid via direct deposit, then you’ve accepted an ACH payment.

Paying bills online through your bank account is another example of a common Automated Clearing House transfer. You can use ACH payments to make recurring or one-time deposits into an IRA, a college savings account, or a taxable brokerage account. For business owners, you may choose to use ACH payments to receive money from clients or to pay your vendors. They tend to be more user-friendly and cost-efficient than writing checks.

If you’re looking to learn how ACH payments work and how safe they are, then you’ve come to the right place. So keep on reading and we’ll take you through everything you’ll want to know!

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What Are ACH Transfers?

An ACH transfer is a bank-to-bank, electronic money transfer that is processed through the Automated Clearing House (ACH) Network.

The ACH Network is a batch processing system. Banks and other financial institutions use the network to aggregate ACH transactions for processing. This usually happens three times every business day.

The ACH Network processes two kinds of ACH payments: direct deposits and direct payments.

ACH Direct Deposits

An ACH direct deposit is any type of electronic transfer that’s made from a government or business to an individual.

The types of payments that fit into this classification include direct deposits of:

  • Employer-Reimbursed Expenses
  • Annuity Payments
  • Paychecks
  • Interest Payments
  • Tax Refunds

If you’re receiving money, then it’s an ACH direct deposit. When you send money, you’re making an ACH direct payment.

ACH Direct Payments

A direct payment can be made by a person, a business, or any other organization to send money. As noted earlier, you make an ACH direct payment when you pay a bill with your online bank account. Social apps like Zelle and Venmo use ACH when you send money to family and friends.

With an ACH direct-payment transaction, the person who sends the money will see an ACH debit show up in their bank account. This debit will show to whom the money was sent and in what amount.

Advantages of ACH Transfers

When you use an ACH transfer to make person-to-person payments or pay your bills, there are a number of advantages. First, you have the benefit of convenience. When you pay your utility bill, mortgage, or other recurring expense with an electronic ACH payment, you’re going to have a much simpler experience than writing and sending a check.

You’ll also get to save on having to pay for stamps and other supplies. The cost-saving benefits are also an excellent reason why you should add ACH to your integrated payment solutions.

When you receive and send ACH payments, the process is usually very quick. The transaction is typically settled by the day after the Automated Clearing House payment is initiated. ACH credits need to settle in one to two days, and ACH debits need to settle by the next business day.

Wire Transfer vs. ACH Transfer

While an ACH transfer will cost you a few dollars at most, it’s likely going to cost you between $20 and $30 to send a bank wire transfer within the United States. However, the wire network processes transactions in real time, so you can usually expect a wire transfer to settle in a few minutes to a few hours.

Because of its speed and cost, wire transfers are usually best for time-sensitive and large-sum transfers.

Related Article: Why ACH Should be Added to Integrated Payment Solutions

How Safe Is an ACH Payment?

In some ways, ACH is safer than writing checks. First off, you only need to enter your bank account information once in order to establish an ACH. With paper checks, however, you need to expose your bank information each time you write a new check.

A check also can get stolen or lost. An Automated Clearing House payment will move money straight from your account to the intended recipient.

If you do encounter any fraud or ACH errors, you’re protected under federal law. The only catch is that you need to report any problems to your bank within sixty days.

Also, ACHs, unlike wire transfers, aren’t irrevocable, immediate, or difficult to reverse. This makes it harder for a thief to get your money and run.

An ACH payment is also safer than using some money transfer services because the recipient of the funds usually needs an American bank account. This means recipients give enough identification for law enforcement to find them should fraud or other illegal activity be involved.

Related Article: Time to Move Beyond Traditional Payment Integration

The Importance of Knowing About ACH Payments

Hopefully, after reading the above article, you have a better understanding of what ACH payments are, how they work, and how much security they offer.

Are you looking for new and improved payment processing solutions? If you are, then make sure to contact us today and see how we can help you!

Dan DeBraal

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