A work group of NACHA is discussing the possibility of merging into one rule set the three ways merchants convert paper checks consumers hand to cashiers or send through the mail into electronic ACH transactions. NACHA is the organization that oversees automated clearinghouse rules in the United States. Merging the three rules would provide one standard entry-class code, which might simplify recording of transactions for banks, merchants and others who use ACH networks. "There's been a push by the banks for that to happen," says Amy Gutierrez, a member of NACHA's Electronic Check Council and vice president of strategic market development for Elavon, a payment-services division of U.S. Bancorp. Gutierrez, who also is a member of the NACHA Product Application Project work group that has been studying the possibility for several months, tells CardLine sister publication Cards&Payments discussions are very preliminary, and it is too early to know the full feasibility of combining the three codes into one. POP, which stands for point-of-purchase conversion, is the code used for transactions that occur when cashiers capture check-routing information at the point of sale and hand voided paper checks back to customers before they leave the store. BOC, for back-office conversion, allows cashiers to keep shoppers' checks so someone else can later convert them into ACH and other electronic transactions. Merchants and recurring billers use ARC, which stands for accounts-receivable conversion, to convert paper checks they receive through the mail or in unattended drop boxes into ACH transactions. Gutierrez says she believes NACHA eventually will combine the three conversion methods into one ACH code, but the possibility will take months of slow and careful consideration.

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