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Resources   /   Glossary

ACH Payment Processing

ACH, which stands for Automated Clearing House, is a type of digital payment network in which a specific amount of money is withdrawn from a savings or checking account and deposited into another bank account. ACH transfers can be used to receive or send money from either a business or a personal bank account, even if the two account holders do not share the same bank.

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What is an ACH Payment?

An ACH payment is a secure and convenient way to transfer money electronically for billing and paying suppliers through what is called an “automated clearing house” network managed by the National Clearinghouse Association (NACHA). Companies may use ACH payment processing to pay their employees’ wages, benefits, and reimbursement claims. ACH can also be used to collect payments from buyers for goods and services provided.

As an electronic payment system, an ACH transaction is a more convenient option than having to manually process and mail paper checks. Physical checks take longer to process than ACH, which may result in delayed payments. ACH is particularly useful when settling recurring payments such as subscription services, tuition fees, membership dues or renewals, and utility bills.

AvidXchange’s payment automation software AvidPay can bring benefits when sending ACH payments. By switching to using software like AvidPay, businesses can eliminate the need to process paper checks. Additionally, when you pay using an ACH or virtual card, AvidXchange allows you to earn payment rewards.

It might be helpful to understand the difference between ACH vs wire transfer since both can be used to send and receive money electronically. To start, what is wire transfer? A wire transfer is an electronic means of transferring money from one bank or credit union to another.

Both ACH and wire transfers provide convenience in terms of sending or receiving money electronically. ACH transfers, while free of charge, have a payment limit and are generally used for small-value payments and medium-value transactions. In addition, ACH transfers take longer to process than wire transfers.

Wire transfers, on the other hand, do not have an upper limit and are typically used for larger value transactions. To send or receive money, most banks charge a wire transfer fee. Domestic wire transfers can be completed on the same day, and international wire transfers can take 2-3 business days. Also, while it is possible to stop ACH payment, a wire transfer cannot be reversed.

When comparing a wire transfer vs bank transfer, a bank transfer is often less expensive and more secure, whereas a wire transfer is quicker but may be less secure. A wire transfer can be processed on the same day, while some bank transfers can take up to five business days.

It is important to note that one payment transfer may not necessarily be better compared to others. For example, when deciding on whether to use a wire transfer, an ACH or a bank transfer to send or receive money, choosing the right option depends largely on your money transfer needs and the purpose of the transaction.

What is ACH Payment Processing?

ACH payment processing is a digital method of transferring money from one bank account to another. ACH is a more secure and practical solution than paper checks, which are more prone to fraud, theft, and postal loss. Additionally, ACH transactions can be done from any location and do not require a signature, secondary ID cards, or other documents for verification. By utilizing AvidXchange’s extensive supplier network of more than 825,000 businesses, companies can easily sort through their suppliers and determine who accepts ACH payments online.

You can accept ACH payments through a bank or by using an ACH payment processing software. A list of online payment methods include AvidXchange’s own enhanced direct-deposit option, AvidPay Direct. Suppliers can receive payments within three business days of payment approval. Transactions are monitored for fraud. Invoice payment services like AvidPay can give companies peace of mind by automating the payment process so that accounts payable teams can ensure suppliers get paid on time according to their preferences.

In some instances, an ACH reversal may be requested. For example, businesses should stop an ACH payment if a customer wishes to cancel a paid subscription or terminate an agreement. Also, if someone was incorrectly charged during an ACH payment, the reversal should be initiated within 24 hours of discovering the error. In addition, the reversal should be sent to the bank no later than five working days after the settlement date of the erroneous transaction. The bank will then reverse the charges and notify the account holders affected by the change. Customers may also contact their issuing bank directly and request a stop payment.

ACH Payment Processing Time

Typically, ACH payments are only available during specific times of the day, and ACH transfers have daily and weekly limits. Due to the rising demand for Same Day ACH payments, NACHA has increased the Same Day ACH transfer limit from $100,000 to $1 million per payment beginning March 2022.

With much of the workforce operating remotely and fraud attempts on the rise, an online payment option such as ACH is regarded as a more secure payment method than writing checks. By using AvidPay Direct, an enhanced ACH option from AvidXchange, companies can improve their cash flow by receiving payments much faster.

An ACH transaction can bring time and cost-saving benefits. With ACH, businesses can avoid using paper checks, which are susceptible to fraud or theft. In addition, ACH can help eliminate the need to handle recurring payment transactions manually, and track payments sent through postal mail. Typically, ACH payment processing time is based on the financial institution. A credit card transaction could take 2-3 business days, depending on the card, and an ACH transfer can take up to 3-5 working days.

ACH Payment Processing Companies

By partnering with the right ACH payment processing companies, you can avoid manually sorting through paper invoices, writing paper checks, and going to the bank personally to process payments. ACH payment processors such as AvidXchange can help simplify the process of paying vendors and allow you to settle your recurring bills more efficiently.

You can withdraw electronic payments directly from your customers’ bank accounts for the goods and services you have provided by opening an ACH merchant account. The ACH payment fee is determined by the bank or payment processor you use.

Perhaps you might be wondering how ACH payment processing works. To initiate an ACH transfer, the payer or originator provides the necessary payment information. These include the account holder’s name, routing number, account number, and transaction. ACH payments can be either debit or credit transactions, and ACH entries must be approved by the account owner. Once received by the bank, ACH entries are generally irreversible, though erroneous or duplicate entries may be corrected.

The Originating Depository Financial Institution or ODFI, also known as the originator’s bank, aggregates all ACH files. The ODFI sends the files to the ACH network, and the files are routed to the Receiving Depository Financial Institution or RDFI, otherwise known as the recipient’s bank. The RDFI allows a member to accept funds via ACH.

AvidPay is AvidXchange’s full-service bill payment solution that you can use to send ACH payments. AvidPay can help improve your overall efficiency by streamlining paper-intensive processes and improving your payment flow. With AvidPay, you can settle all of your bills 100 percent electronically with just a few clicks. In addition, AvidPay allows you to create custom workflows that correspond to your current approval process and provides you with 24/7 visibility into your payment status and approvals.

Accept ACH Payments Instantly

While you can use a free instant ACH transfer app, it is important to choose the right ACH processor to enable your business to save time and money. Some free payment apps, for example, may not allow you to cancel or dispute payments sent to the wrong recipients, and there might be a risk of funds or personal information being stolen.

When using instant ACH transfer online, there are free apps that may not permit users to use their desktop when sending payments for the first time, only their mobile devices. Other free apps might not be able to protect their users from fraudulent activities due to a lack of adequate customer support.

Although an “instant ACH transfer, no verification required” may sound hassle-free, the verification process is actually for your own protection. Sellers may use an ACH verification process as a precaution to minimize the chance of financial risk. Verifying bank accounts also guarantees that the money is coming from and being transferred into legitimate banks or insured financial institutions.

How to Accept ACH Payments

An ACH transfer is commonly used to process recurring payments. These include payroll direct deposits, customer payments for products or services rendered, business-to-business transactions, and auto bill renewals. The ACH transfer time is around four business days for standard ACH payments, and it takes one day for same-day ACH payments. For users of payment software Square, ACH payments may take up to five business days.

Setting up an ACH merchant account enables small businesses to access the ACH network and collect payments straight from their customers’ bank accounts. This is especially true for businesses that accept recurring payments. Utility bills, membership dues, and subscription fees are some examples of recurring payments. By creating recurring payments, there is no need for your customers to be physically or virtually present when making payments. Customers may authorize businesses to automatically bill them and receive ACH payment for debit or credit transactions by simply sharing their payment information.

Best Way To Send ACH Payments

ACH payments are preferred by a growing number of companies. In comparison to paper checks, it is more convenient to accept echeck payments and collect payments straight from a customer’s checking account into a merchant’s bank account. Businesses need to create an ACH merchant account to withdraw electronic payments from customers and accept payments. With ACH transfers, payments are processed more quickly and securely than writing checks.

One type of ACH transfer is ACH direct deposit, in which companies or government institutions transmit money online to consumers. Government benefits, pensions, tax refunds, and paychecks are a few examples of ACH direct deposits.

Companies may collect clients’ banking and payment information and authorizations seamlessly by partnering with the best ACH payment processing. It is important to pick an ACH payment processor that will enable you to collect invoices and recurring payments securely. An ACH payment processor such as AvidXchange can integrate seamlessly with your ERP widely-used accounting systems. This means that you can pay your suppliers directly and on time.

As one of the best ACH processing companies, AvidXchange’s proprietary direct deposit option, AvidPay Direct, leverages ACH with enhanced information. With AvidPay Direct, AvidXchange users can receive payments within three days upon payment approval.

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