How PCI Compliance Relates to ACH Payments

How PCI Compliance Relates to ACH Payments

What is PCI Compliance?

The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard, commonly known as PCI DSS, has long been the leading authority in terms of security for the credit card processing industry. Its reliability makes PCI enormously valuable when it comes to protecting not just card information, but any type of sensitive data, such as ACH payment processing credentials.

The misconception that only large companies that have huge processing capabilities need to be concerned with security will hopefully become less widespread. Today’s context makes it necessary for all merchants, irrespective of size, to protect sensitive information, and PCI DSS provides the necessary framework to do so. 

PCI is required for card payments.  Yet, it also adds protection for ACH payment processing.  

How PCI Helps Prevent ACH Processing Fraud

PCI compliance was introduced in the payment industry to stem the tide of fraud losses, but unfortunately, not all entities respect it as they should. A recent study released by the American Bankers Association (ABA) suggests that, in spite of the best efforts of banks to prevent fraud, their task is rendered difficult by retail data breaches.

These breaches, which have become the norm in recent years, are made possible by insufficient security protection.

The good news is that ACH payment processing, online banking, and wire transactions taken collectively make up just 2% of the losses reported by the ABA. Fraud losses, however, continue to increase, mainly because not all parties involved in the payment ecosystem are equally concerned with security and prevention.

The consistent implementation of PCI standards would make it considerably difficult for fraudsters to make a breakthrough to your ACH payment processing.

Tips to Protect Your ACH Payment Processing Account

Each business that uses ACH payment processing needs to do its share in this collective effort to prevent fraud. Even though ACH payments accounts register less fraud attacks, the risk is far from non-existent.

Since ACH payments are often low risk, ACH transaction processing is largely automated.  Therefore, detection of fraud might not occur in time to stop it. Given the fact that business accounts have just 3 days to reverse an ACH payment processing fraudulent transaction, it would be unwise to disregard this risk.

Some components of the PCI standard considerably reduce the prospect of suffering ACH payment fraud.  These include:

  • Maintaining a firewall
  • Using encryption when transferring sensitive data
  • Making sure that the virus protection is up to date
  • Putting into place a security policy that each employee needs to follow

How Employees Contribute to Fraud

Fraudsters can get access to ACH payment processing  information by targeting employees with tried-and-tested techniques,

For example fraudsters install  malicious software as email attachments.   When the employee clicks on the attachment, the harmful software is installed.  Some newer, more sophisticated, and quite effective techniques involve social engineering and impersonation.

These threats can be addressed by providing training to employees that handle ACH payment processing information on how cybercriminals perpetrate their acts.  

Also, two-factor authentication is an increasingly used method of securing payment information.

Regardless of what security measures a merchant decides to adopt, they need to be implemented and followed as consistently as possible, until they become a part of business as usual.


Following PCI recommendations for safe payment processing is a wise strategy.  Protect your business by following PCI standards for secure processing. 

Interested in finding out more? Contact


Why Payment Processors Add E Checks

International and US payment processors understand that additional payment options at checkout result in more orders for merchants using the processing platform. The more ways customers have to pay, the more sales are made.

The US ecommerce market will hit $434 billion in sales within the next 2 years.  Merchants throughout the world want access to US buyers.  And depend upon their payment processors to help acquire more orders from US customers.

How can processors drive more transaction volume while helping their merchants get more sales? By providing the payment options preferred by US buyers.

Echecks are second only to cards as the preferred method of payment by US consumers. Over 30% of internet purchases are made with alternative payments such as echecks. In addition, echecks have substantially lower risk of fraud than cards.

Benefits of ECheck Payments

  • Obtain orders from buyers that don’t have cards or are maxed out on cards.
  • Get sales from buyers that prefer to pay with an electronic check rather than a card
  • Alternative to card declines.  If a card transaction declines, offering an echeck payment option can rescue the sale
  • E checks have far fewer chargebacks and returns than cards.

Integrating eChecks with Processing Platforms

Integration to your payment processing platform is easily accomplished with an API. All reporting and management functions are available to your merchants when logging on to your system.

Merchants can accept checks online.  And accept check by phone, mail, and fax (MOTO) orders by entering transactions in a virtual terminal.  Batch uploads to a secure FTP site are also available.

Electronic check processing is available for businesses in all industries, including high risk merchants.

eChecks on the Checkout Page

Electronic checks are a familiar method of payment for US consumers. At checkout, buyers select the “pay with echeck” option. The customer enters payment data information, including name, address, and account information, and submits the transaction for payment.

Electronic check verification is available, which gives you the ability to confirm account information prior to sending transactions for processing.  Check verification keeps returns low, saving you money on processing, while protecting the electronic check processor accounts.

For additional security, identity verification can be provided verify the identity of customers.  Digital signatures can be used one to verify the identity of customers.  These options are often used by high risk merchants or high ticket merchants.

Electronic checks are one of the best ways for international merchants to get more orders from US buyers. Helping your merchants boost sales while increasing profits.

Are you a payment processor interested in adding echecks to your platform?

Contact today

How echecks Increase Orders from US Buyers

Accept echecks and get more orders from your US customers.  Call 214-269-9361 today to find out more on how to quickly increase your sales. 

Echecks Most Popular Alternative Payment Option for US Buyers

The United States is among the top targeted markets for global ecommerce.   The easiest way for international companies  to increase orders from US customers is to offer multiple payment options on the checkout page.

Electronic checks (echecks) are the most popular alternative payment method for US customers, second only to card payments.  Echecks give you the ability to accept payments from customers that don’t have cards, are maxed out on cards, or who simply prefer to pay with a echeck rather than a card.

An echeck payment automatically deducts the money from buyers’ bank accounts.  The funds are then electronically settled to your business bank account.  Merchants offering echecks at checkout realize a sales “lift” of up to 30% simply by having an alternative to card payments.

Local Payment Options Increase Sales

Each market has its own peculiarities when it comes to electronic payments.  In the US , card payments are used extensively, but their predominance is challenged by echeck payments.

One way of processing echecks is through the ACH network.  ACH, which is an acronym for Automated Clearing House, uses a processing network which facilitates high-volume transfer of funds between an originator and a receiving depository financial institution.

This type of electronic payment is widely used for a wide variety of US transactions.  It is one of the fastest growing payment options for internet sales.  If you are selling online, you are missing sales if you do not offer echecks as a payment option to your US customers.  

The smooth functioning of the network is regulated by NACHA, the National Automated Clearing House Association. Since its creation in 1974, NACHA has gone a long way to reach its current processing capacity of over 20% of the electronic payments in the United States. This share of the market will surely increase, as NACHA has distinguished itself through innovation and its ability to respond to the necessities of businesses and consumers alike. The most recent improvement of the ACH payment process will soon introduce faster, same-day settlement for all transactions that will take place within the network.

Echecks can also be processed via Check 21 technology, which allows for fast clearing and settlements of funds.  And is not restricted by NACHA rules regarding chargebacks and returns.  Processing echeck transactions using Check 21 technology is particularly valuable for high risk or high volume merchants.

Differences Between Echecks and Card Payments

The popularity of echeck payments is fueled mostly by what distinguishes them from card payments. From the perspective of the consumer, the fact that card information is not needed is extremely convenient. Fraud involving credit cards is so high in the United States, that some people have become reluctant to use or even own this payment instrument.

Merchants, especially high risk ones, will find echeck payments beneficial for their business because they are frequently easier to get and less costly compared with the strictly regulated credit card payments. In addition, the relatively short period in which an echeck transaction can be disputed with the bank means that you will have to deal with a smaller number of spurious chargeback claims from customers. Also, echeck payments provide high authorization rates for recurring billing because the account information is more stable than the credit card information.

How to Establish Your Electronic Check Payment Processing Account

What is clear is that echeck payments will remain an essential component of the electronic payment environment in the United States. As a result, if you wish that wish to tap into the local market, you have to compete with other merchants that have already implemented echecks payments.   In order to stay profitable, gain an edge over your competition and expand your US customer base, add echecks to your payment page today.

NationalACH offers international  merchants the opportunity to gain all the benefits echecks provide. The profits of your business will immediately increase.  And you will maintain long-term profitability by adapting to the payment needs of the US markets.  

NationalACH is one of the only firms that offer echecks to international merchants.  If you are serious about increasing your US market share, contact us today.


Echecks for International Merchants

Get More Orders from US Shoppers

The US ecommerce market provides big opportunities for international merchants.  According to Internet Retailer, the US market expanded 13% in 2013, with over $262 billion being spent online.

International merchants find that offering alternative payments such as echecks is the fastest  way to increase sales from US buyers.  Echecks capture sales from customers that don’t’ have cards, are maxed out on cards, or simply prefer to pay with an echeck rather than a card.

Electronic checks are the most popular alterntative payment method for US shoppers.  Millions of Americans regularly pay for goods & services with electronic checks.  

Difference between ACH and Check 21 Checks

ACH electronic check processing is a good choice for merchants that can keep revokes (chargebacks) under 0.5% as required by NACHA the governing body of the ACH network.  A chargeback is a transaction that is revoked by the buyer who claims that the transaction was not authorized.

Echecks using Check 21 technology is a good solution for high risk merchants that need more flexibility on chargebacks.   Check 21 is governed by the Uniform Commercial Code and check laws rather than ACH rules.  As a result, echecks using Check 21 have a higher tolerance for chargebacks than do ACH echeck accounts.

The user experience for echecks is the same whether the transaction is processed through the ACH network or through Check 21. 

At checkout, the customer enters bank routing and account numbers.  The information is validated through a variety of databases and the transaction is completed. Check 21 transactions clear faster than ACH. 

However, with both technologies, transactions do not clear in real time.  Merchants that ship products find it prudent to wait a day before shipping to be sure the transaction clears.

If a return does occur, the transaction can automatically be resubmitted.  Most people don’t mean to bounce a check.  They simply make an error when calculating the amount of money in their account.  Resubmitted transactions result in good orders 90% of the time.

Echecks for High Risk Merchants

Echecks are a particularly good payment option for customers in high risk processing categories.  Processing rates for echecks are lower than for cards.

For merchants that offer recurring billing plans, such as subscriptions, echecks help stabilize revenue streams.  Payments made through bank accounts are more stable over time.  People rarely change bank accounts whereas 20% of cards are reissued each year.

Settlement of funds from echeck merchant accounts are sent by wire to your international bank.  Funds can also be deposited directly to a US settlement account, if you have one.


When you accept checks online, you get more sales from US shoppers.  Echecks are a trusted alternative payment method used by millions of Americans on a regular basis.

More than 30% of US internet sites accept checks online. To compete in the US market, international commerce merchants need to offer shoppers more than one way to pay.  Or risk losing sales to competitors that do.  

Are you interested in electronic check processing to get more orders from US shoppers?

Contact today.

International Ecommerce Fast Road to Profits


Ecommerce merchants are seeing outstanding opportunities in the global market.  Expansion of targeted markets to include international buyers represents one of the greatest profit initiatives available today,

In spite of weaker economies and financial issues, the chance to get new sales from emerging and established countries is too powerful to ignore.  There is pent-up demand for US products and smart ecommerce merchants are answering the call by aggressively courting global buyers.

Online retailers of fashion have been one of the quickest to jump on the international bandwagon.  US apparel has tremendous appeal and cache world-wide.

TommyBahama has gotten strong reception with buyers in the UK and Australia as well as Scandinavia, Germany and Japan.  And reports that international online orders are 3 times the size of domestic ones.  Retailer JCrew has also expanded international sales to over 100 countries to great success.

International Markets with Greatest Immediate Opportunity

Europe, Australia, Brazil, and Canada represent low-hanging fruits for companies that want to expand internationally.  Europe is the second largest ecommerce market.  Brazil’s prosperity and growing middle-class makes it one of the fastest expanding and largest emerging markets in the world.

Obtaining reliable payment options is a crucial part of squeezing as much profit as possible out of international orders.  In many countries, credit card penetration is low.  Cards are not the first choice of payment when purchasing online.

In Europe, Australia, Canada and Brazil, bank transfers are a popular and accepted method of paying for online purchases.  Bank transfers represent one of the safest and most reliable payments for merchants.

How Bank Transfers Work

A bank transfer is a “push payment”.

At point of checkout, the buyer choses to pay with a bank transfer and selects the bank from a drop down menu.  The buyer is sent to the online bank site where the buyer logs in to his or her account.

The prepopulated form from the merchant is automatically displayed.  The buyer choses which account to make a payment from.  The merchant is informed that the payment has been made.  The buyer receives a receipt by email.

The buyer is then redirected back to the merchant’s site.


The biggest benefit to you from accepting bank transfers is that the payment is guaranteed.  There is no risk of chargebacks.  Once you are informed that payment has been made, the product or service can be fulfilled.

This makes the payment option hugely popular not only for standard risk but also for high risk merchants.  For example, travel, digital content, downloads, online entertainment, money transfer services, multi-level marketing (MLM), and merchants selling pre-paid cards find the payment option extraordinarily effective.

Are you interested in increasing sales from international buyers?  

Contact today.


International ACH Slow to Catch On

Reasons International ACH Transactions are Lagging

Two years after the passage of the International ACH Transaction (IAT) code, most businesses are not using the service due to three main reasons:

  • Complying with the IAT rules is an added expense.  These days, businesses are focused on decreasing costs.
  • IAT requires companies to implement technology and process changes in order to conform with file format and data transmission standards.
  • Banks have been slow to modify systems and procedures for IAT transactions so companies have little guidance for implementation.

According to NACHA, IAT ACH transactions increased 520% to 9.53 million from 1.54 million transactions in Q3 from the same period in the prior year.

History of International ACH

NACHA, the electronic payments association governing ACH standards in the US, amended its operating rules to include IAT in September, 2009.  From that point, international payments made through the ACH network had to be identified as IAT transactions. 

This change affected all parties in the payments hierarchy, including corporate treasuries, financial institutions, third-party financial software vendors, and payment service providers.

According to a survey conducted by Logica, most US companies are not ready to send or receive IAT – only 36% are live, 14% are in the implementation stage, 39% have a business case in development and 11% are in the review or selection process of technology providers.

International ACH Regulators

Under the NACHA regulations, IAT entries are subject to the US Department of Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) screening. NACHA implemented the rules in response to OFAC and anti-money laundering (AML) issues associated with previously-used codes which were unable to be checked against the OFAC Specifically Designated Nationals list (SDN).

The goal of the IAT rule change was to be sure that US organizations were not doing business with blocked entities or banned countries.

IAT payments must include specific data elements defined by the Bank Secrecy Act ’s (BSA) Travel Rule.  The file format must include a detailed record and at least seven addenda records needed for compliance with the BSA Travel Rule. 

These include information about the originator, receiver, beneficiary, and all domestic and foreign banks involved in a transaction. The format is similar to data requirements for wire transactions and are compatible with global formats such as SWIFT and ISO 20022.

Penalties Associated with Non-Compliance

There are civil and criminal penalties associated with non-compliance to IAT rules.  These include jail sentences and fines ranging from $10,000 to $10,000,000 per occurrence by OFAC.  Fines up to $500,000 per month in NACHA rule violations can also be imposed.

It’s often complex to determine whether a transaction is domestic or international.   Whether a transaction is considered an IAT or a domestic transaction is based on the location of the financial institution involved in the processing and settlement of the transaction as well as the location and status of the final beneficiary.


International ACH transfers, while slow to take off, are sure to grow over the coming years.  Regulatory compliance has been one of the main reasons for the laggard growth.

The regulations that govern international ACH transactions are becoming wide-spread across the entire banking sector. AML and OFAC regulations have decreased financial institutions’ tolerance for risk. Regulatory compliance, especially as it relates to international money transfer, is not going away anytime soon.  

Still, there are some companies that may benefit from the effort required to process international ACH transactions. It’s always worthwhile to investigate all of your options.

Are you interested in exploring international ACH for your business?

Contact today