Merchants often ask if ACH payment processing is available through a bank rather than a third party processor. The answer is “It depends.”
Some financial institutions will provide ACH payment processing to major accounts. If you run a blue-chip company, with tens of thousands of transactions per month, a bank may process ACH transactions for you as long as you maintain millions of dollars in your business bank account. But the service is almost never provided to small-to-medium size companies.
Banks certainly don’t want to provide ACH processing for ecommerce businesses wishing to accept checks online because that is considered high risk processing. And, if your company is falls into a high risk merchant classification, forget about working directly with a bank.
Even if a bank does provide ACH services, most companies, including blue-chips, chose to use a third party ACH processor. The fact is that most US banks have archaic ACH payment systems which are designed financial institutions and not for businesses or merchants
For example, a bank can accept and submit ACH payments processing files to the Federal Reserve. But, that’s about the extent of the functionality of most systems. Management, reconciliation and accounting functions for ACH transactions are not provided, which makes a bank’s ACH services almost useless for merchants.
And don’t expect automated returns, NSF, audit trails, or the capability to easily import and export ACH payments files into internal accounting systems from a bank. Instead, plan to waste time and money as you try to translate raw ACH payments data from your bank into usable information for your business.
In addition, a bank will not provide administrative support for your company nor give you online reporting. Think of the administrative nightmares your company will encounter as you attempt to reconcile and track thousands of ACH transactions without automated administrative support.
If all you need is basic credits and debits ACH payment processing, you may be able to hobble along with your bank’s old-fashioned system. But, you won’t be able to take full advantage of the power of ACH payments can give you.
A third party ACH processor has developed easy-to-use and simple to install software interfaces which allow for smooth integration between banks and merchants. It is well worth paying a little more per transaction in exchange for access to the software.
ACH software gives companies the ability to manage and track transactions and integrate processing with internal accounting systems. Account reconciliation is a breeze. Online reporting is standard. And administrative support is always available.
If you want to accept ACH payments over the internet or accept checks by phone, a dedicated ACH payment processor is, by far, the most efficient and effective solution. Businesses can quickly to integrate electronic check processing with a website to increase orders from ecommerce sites. And, accept checks by phone through a virtual terminal, giving customers another convenient channel through which to pay you.
Few banks are willing to provide ACH processing services to businesses. Ecommerce and high risk merchants that want to accept checks online establish accounts with ACH processors.
ACH processors have sophisticated processing and management capacities that are not available through banks. And are happy to set up accounts for ecommerce and high risk merchants.
Are you an ecommerce or high risk merchant seeking to increase sales & profits with ACH processing?
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org today