The automated clearinghouse (ACH) system is a nationwide network through which depository institutions send each other batches of electronic credit and debit transfers. The direct deposit of payroll, social security benefits, and tax refunds are typical examples of ACH credit transfers. The direct debiting of mortgages and utility bills are typical examples of ACH debit transfers. While the ACH network was originally used to process mostly recurring payments, the network is today being used extensively to process one-time debit transfers, such as converted check payments and payments made over the telephone and Internet.
The Reserve Banks and Electronic Payments Network (EPN) are the two national ACH operators. As an ACH operator, the Reserve Banks receive files of ACH payments from originating depository financial institutions, edit and sort the payments, deliver the payments to receiving depository financial institutions, and settle the payments by crediting and debiting the depository financial institutions' settlement accounts. The Reserve Banks and EPN rely on each other to process interoperator ACH payments--that is, payments in which the originating depository financial institution and the receiving depository financial institution are served by different operators. These interoperator payments are settled by the Reserve Banks.
Reports to Congress
Report to the Congress on the Use of the Automated Clearinghouse System for Remittance Transfers to Foreign Countries
2019 Report (PDF) | 2017 Report (PDF) | 2015 Report (PDF) | 2013 Report (PDF) | 2011 Report (PDF)
On December 23, 2019, the Board approved modifications to the Federal Reserve Banks' National Settlement Service and Fedwire® Funds Service to support enhancements to the same-day ACH service. On September 25, 2020, the Board amended the implementation date for certain modifications.
- Board's approval of National Settlement Service and Fedwire Funds Service modifications – December 23, 2019
- Board’s amendment of implementation date for certain modifications – September 25, 2020
The Board requested comment on May 9, 2019 on potential modifications to the Federal Reserve Banks' National Settlement Service (NSS) and Fedwire® Funds Service to support enhancements to the same-day ACH service.
- Board's request for comment on National Settlement Service and Fedwire Funds Service modifications -- May 9, 2019
The Board and Reserve Banks provided comment on Nacha's December 1, 2017 request for comment on proposed rules to expand same-day ACH.
- Board Staff Comment Letter -- February 1, 2018 (PDF)
- Reserve Banks' Staff Comment Letter – January 26, 2018 (PDF)
The Board has approved enhancements to the Reserve Banks' same-day ACH service to align the service with Nacha's ACH operating rules.
- Board's approval of the same-day ACH enhancements -- September 23, 2015
- Board's request for comment on the same-day ACH enhancements -- May 21, 2015
- Potential same-day ACH interbank fee adjustments based on Nacha's 5-year and 8-year reviews (PDF) | (CSV)
The Board and Reserve Banks provided comment on Nacha's request on December 8, 2014 for comment to amend its operating rules to include same-day processing for most ACH payments.
- Board Staff Comment Letter -- February 6, 2015 (PDF)
- Reserve Banks' Staff Comment Letter -- February 6, 2015 (PDF)
Further information on the FedACH® service