Commercial clients of Regions Bank now may expand the scope of the payment options available to their own customers under a deal the institution struck to support Secure Vault Payments, joining the 37 banks that already are members.

“We were interested in adding this to the depth and breadth of product features we offer,” says Greg Miles, Regions senior vice president and treasury management product development executive.

Regions also felt it important to accept Secure Vault payments on the consumer side and be listed on the drop-down menu on sites that support Secure Vault, he says.

Secure Vault uses technology from eWise Systems USA Inc. and NACHA’s ACH network.

It appealed to the bank because “it combines the convenience of the automated clearinghouse network with security that isn’t always available with an ACH payment,” Miles says. “An ACH payment is subject to nonsufficient funds and other issues. With Secure Vault payments, there’s a high degree confidence the that purchaser is who they say they are, and we do check funds availability and hold funds the way the way credit or debit card payments do.”

The system enables the bank to extend the security measures it developed for online banking, such as multifactor authentication, to Secure Vault payments. “It’s not a full-fledged login to online banking,” Miles explains. “The way the user experience works, our customer goes to a merchant’s website that accepts Secure Vault.

When Regions is the selected bank, the user is presented a scaled-down authentication page, which then provides a list of eligible bank accounts the customer can select from to make payment. Once an account is selected and the funds available verified, then the payment is made.

“Behind the scenes, we place a hold on those funds, then we conclude that payment using the ACH network,” Miles says. The hold is typically two or three days.

The bank is in the process of creating a secure interface from Secure Vault to Region’s online banking system.

Miles acknowledges that future acceptance of Secure Vault among merchants and consumers is unknown.

“To some extent, there’s a chicken-and-egg scenario going on,” he says. It’s important to the Secure Vault Payment network that many financial institutions participate, and it’s important to the banks that the network sign up more merchants.”

Regions is impressed with the range of financial institutions that are part of the network, and it felt it was important to be participants as well, Miles says.

“We do think it’s important to provide alternatives to commercial clients and consumers, beyond that I can’t say,” he says.

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