Magazine article American Banker

Mich. ACH Group's New Name Clarifies Mission

Magazine article American Banker

Mich. ACH Group's New Name Clarifies Mission

Article excerpt

Before changing its name last month to the Payments Authority, the Michigan Automated Clearing House Association would sometimes get strange questions over the phone.

One caller asked if the association could clean her house. Another thought he had reached Publishers Clearinghouse.

Even those who may have known something about payment systems could have mistaken the Troy, Mich., association of financial institutions for a payment processor.

Executives at Payments Authority are hopeful the new moniker will clarify its purpose-to be "a resource for information with respect to electronic payments in general, not just automated clearing house-type payments," said Margaret L. Zimmerman, president of the organization.

Macha's rechristening is the latest in a series of repositionings by regional ACH associations.

As the payment system pie expands to include various forms of home banking, Internet transactions, and federally mandated electronic payments, the not-for-profit associations have joined their members and others in assuming higher profiles and grabbing for bigger pieces of the business.

The Payments Authority has an educational charter that includes teaching the ins and outs of electronic payments to depository financial institutions, corporations, and consumers.

The group has an advantage in being in Michigan, which is ahead of much of the country in ACH usage.

An estimated 60% of Michigan paycheck recipients use direct deposit, compared with the national average of 55%. Michigan's figure could rise if the state legislature passes a measure that would let employers require employees to receive their pay via direct deposit.

Seventy-five percent of Michigan Social Security beneficiaries receive automatic payments, compared with the national average of 68%.

Of the nearly four billion electronic payments that flowed over the national ACH network last year, 51% were direct deposits and about 28% were direct debits. …

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