More than 12 billion automated clearing house (ACH) payments were made in 2004, a 20 per cent increase over 2003, according to statistics released by Nacha – the US Electronic Payments Association. Nacha said the growth was largely driven by the rapid expansion of ARC – the accounts receivable check conversion application – which experienced a nearly six-fold increase in volume to more than 1.25 billion payments. Internet-initiated ACH payments represented a second area of growth. In 2004 American consumers initiated 967 million ACH debit payments via the Internet, valued at over $300bn, and a 40.4 per cent increase over 2003. Nacha estimates that 80 per cent of these debits are to pay bills via companies’ or billing services’ web sites, 18 per cent are to transfer funds, and one per cent are to make purchases. In addition, Americans initiated 115 million ACH credit payments, valued at $47.8bn, via their financial institutions’ or billing services’ websites.
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