[This is just one of my series of posts from the NACHA Payments 2008 conference in Las Vegas.]
Overall Observations &
NACHA Leadership Interview
ACH Transaction Growth: Over All and B2B
– More than 18 billion automated clearing house (ACH) payments were
made in 2007, a 12.6 percent increase over 2006. Business payments
increased to 2.5 billion, up 8.5 percent over 2006. Financial EDI
records (remittance data passed through the ACH network) increased by
11.9 percent and the number of Financial EDI payments increased 18.1
percent over 2006. That means that a whole lot B2B payments were made
via ACH but the remittance information traveled from buyer to seller
via other means (mail, email, fax, phone, etc.). Details here.
Leadership Transition at
NACHA – At the end of the year, Elliott McEntee will step
down after 18 years as CEO of NACHA. He has
led the ACH organization through unprecedented growth as the payments
industry transitions from paper to electronic. Many innovative,
non-bank payments solutions leverage the ubiquity of the ACH network in
ways unimaginable eighteen years ago. McEntee's successor, Janet
Estep, formerly an Executive with US Bancorp, is charged with
defining a vision for NACHA's future. A future that, according to
NACHA's Board Chairman Steve Ellis, will not only continue to focus on
the migration of paper payments to electronic, but also, increasingly
focus on mobile and global payments.
I had an opportunity to talk to McEntee, Estep, and Ellis on Tuesday
afternoon. After only one week on the job, it is too soon for Estep to
outline her plans (I'll check in with her in a few months), but my first impression is positive. She emphasized the need to collaborate with all of NACHA's constituencies
– member banks, technology partners, consumers and businesses – in
order to ensure the ACH network provides reliable, secure payments that
meet the needs of both senders and receivers in a number of contexts.
And she vowed to rid future conferences of showgirls and Cher
When asked about the tension between NACHA's role in defining standards and rules and its efforts to develop products,
Estep made a distinction between traditional product management (from
concept to development, including pricing and going to market) and what
she would term "initiatives" at NACHA, which does not imply full
ownership or include pricing and go-to market execution. Her view is
that NACHA has a unique role in collaborating with its constituencies
to enable new payments initiatives. Ellis also views NACHA's efforts as
distinct from products, seeing the organization as an enabler of new
products, leveraging the rails that already exist to do more and more.
He characterized the NACHA efforts (EBIDS, Secure Vault Payments) as
proof of concepts/pilots – not unlike a laboratory.
Increased Focus on B2B –
I was particularly pleased that Ellis, Estep, and McEntee all stressed
the importance of B2B payments to NACHA's future strategy. NACHA is
increasing its focus on B2B, not only conducting research to determine
small business payment needs, but also launching a number of its own
payments initiatives focused on B2B, e.g. the proposed BIZ transaction
that enables invoice flipping. I will be attending the NACHA Councils
"MEGA Meeting" in June to learn more about the organizations B2B
in the exhibit hall mobile and remote deposit
the most buzz. I had a number of interesting one-on-one conversations
with representatives from eGistics, ChoicePay, ClairMail, OB10,
Wausau, NetDeposit, and GoldLeaf.
And of course, the recent announcement of Wells Fargo
& BofA's plans to merge their ACH operations was the
subject of much discussion.