Invoice to Cash

31 Jan 2024

ACH Payments: Your Guide to Faster, Cheaper Transfers

Subhasis Sahoo (Founding Member - Marketing)

What is an ACH Payment?

ACH, an acronym for Automated Clearing House, denotes a nationwide network in the United States facilitating the electronic transfer of funds between bank accounts. Unlike credit card transactions, which entail third-party networks and instant authorization, ACH payments operate directly between banks, rendering them more cost-effective and efficient.

How Does an ACH Payment Work?

  • Initiation: The sender (originator) furnishes their bank with the recipient’s bank account information (routing number and account number) and the transfer amount. This information can be submitted through various channels, including online banking, payroll software, or merchant payment platforms.
  • Batching: The sender’s bank aggregates multiple ACH payment requests throughout the day, consolidating them into a single file. This batching process optimizes network efficiency and reduces costs.
  • Clearing House: The batch file is dispatched to the National Automated Clearing House Association (NACHA), the governing body of the ACH network. NACHA serves as a central hub, directing each payment to the correct receiving bank based on the routing number.
  • Settlement: Upon receipt by the recipient’s bank, the funds are electronically transferred to the designated account. Typically, the entire process, from initiation to settlement, takes 1-3 business days.

Types of ACH Payments:

There are two primary types of ACH payments:

  • ACH Credits: These denote “push” payments, wherein the sender initiates the transfer of funds to the recipient’s account. Common examples include direct deposit of paychecks, tax refunds, and business-to-business payments.
  • ACH Debits: These represent “pull” payments, where the recipient authorizes the sender to withdraw funds directly from their account. This method is often employed for recurring payments like bills, subscriptions, and loan repayments.

Benefits of ACH Payments:

For both individuals and businesses, ACH payments confer numerous advantages:

  • Cost-effectiveness: In comparison to credit card transactions, ACH payments incur significantly lower fees, rendering them a valuable option for businesses handling high transaction volumes.
  • Faster than Checks: Unlike paper checks, which can take days or even weeks to clear, ACH payments are typically settled within 1-3 business days.
  • Security: The ACH network employs robust security measures to safeguard sensitive financial information.
  • Convenience: ACH payments can be initiated and received electronically, obviating the need for physical checks or cash.
  • Automation: ACH payments can be configured as recurring transactions, streamlining bill payments and payroll processes.

The Technical Underpinnings:

The efficient operation of the ACH network relies on several pivotal technologies:

  • Automated File Transfer Protocol (AFTP): This secure protocol facilitates the exchange of batch files between banks and the NACHA clearing house.
  • Electronic Code of Federal Regulations (ECFR): This standardized set of rules governs the format and content of ACH data files.
  • Bank Identification Numbers (BINs): These unique identifiers aid in routing payments to the correct financial institutions.
  • Positive Pay: This fraud prevention tool enables businesses to validate the legitimacy of ACH payments before processing them.


ACH payments have revolutionized the financial landscape in the United States. Their efficiency, affordability, and security position them as a preferred choice for businesses and individuals alike. As technology advances, we anticipate even swifter and more secure ACH payment solutions in the future.

Confused about ACH payments? Talk to our experts now!