NACHA, the Herndon, Va.-based electronic payments association that manages the U.S. automated clearinghouse network, has extended the deadline for financial institutions to begin using a new standard entry class code for ACH transactions that cross international borders. Financial institutions now have until Sept. 18, 2009, to install and test software needed for the new International ACH Transaction code. NACHA and the two U.S. ACH operators–the U.S. Federal Reserve and Electronic Payments Network–"strongly encourage" financial institutions to install software by the original March 20, 2009, deadline and to use the additional six months to test systems, train employees and educte customers. NACHA says the new code format will help financial institutions comply more easily with U.S. anti-money laundering rules by clearly distinguishing cross-border ACH transactions from domestic transactions. The new international transaction format will include specific data defined by the U.S. Bank Secrecy Act's "Travel Rule." Besides the names and account numbers of sending and receiving institutions, transactions under the international code also include the names and addresses of individuals initiating, or "originating," cross-border payments and the names and addresses of consumers, businesses or organizations receiving the funds. Jan Estep, president and chief operating officer of NACHA, tells CardLine that the "vast majority" of NACHA's financial institution members would have been ready for the new code by March. "But many institutions may not have enough time for complete testing with end points and for complete process and policy documentation," Estep adds. "This is more than a simple [standard entry class code] change and is more involved than just installing new technology."

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