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Emerging Payments

Nacha Establishes Guidelines for Using Bar Codes for Bill Payments

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Nacha, the electronic payments association, issued guidelines for the use of quick-response (QR) codes for consumer bill payment.

QR codes are two-dimensional bar codes that can be scanned with a smartphone's camera to direct users to a website or pull up specific information. The codes are increasingly common in stores and advertisements to direct consumers to product information, and some mobile payment systems use them to present account data.

Developed by members of Nacha's Council for Electronic Billing and Payment, the QR Encoding for Consumer Bill Pay Guidelines outline how QR codes can be used for bill-pay features, including making payments, viewing bills, setting up payees in online banking and registering for eBills.

“It is our hope that these standards will help encourage QR code use for bill pay, and ultimately provide an easy option for check writers to view and pay bills electronically,” says Chris Huppert, senior vice president of Wells Fargo and chair of the CEBP, in a Jan. 24 press release.   

By establishing a single standardized QR code format, the guidelines can ensure a consistent experience for consumers. The guidelines describe how codes printed on paper bills can be scanned with a consumer’s mobile device using a generic, biller or mobile-banking QR code reader.

“We see QR codes as a bridge to help our biller customers move their consumers from paper to electronic adoption,” says Rich Langan, senior product manager with DST Output and CEBP member, in the release. Langan also helped write the guidelines.

The guidelines also describe both biller-direct and consolidator/aggregator billing and payment model standards, plus provide recommendations about QR code size, the layout of the data and the data to be included. 

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