Nacha, the electronic payments association, is launching new initiatives that leverage programming language and the automated clearing house network to aid business-to-business payments and low-value check processing.

"A strategy for several years has been to take advantage of the information that can flow directly within the payment in order to add efficiency to the posting and reconciliation of that payment," said Janet Estep, president and chief executive officer of Nacha, in an interview at Nacha's Payments 2013 conference.

The XML Remittance program, which launches in May, enables the use of the XML data format for transmitting business-to-business transactions through the ACH network. Through Nacha opt-in rules, agreements and guidelines; and a data dictionary that will standardize formats; the program is designed to help financial institutions, service providers and corporations automate business-to-business remittances. XML is a programming language that is often used by payments companies to enable faster transaction processing.

"XML is very flexible," Estep says. "To incorporate in an XML format will allow for the benefits of straight-through processing for business-to-business transactions."

Nacha announced several other initiatives on April 22. The association will expand its Deposited Check Truncation (DCT) program. DCT allows financial institutions to use the ACH network to electronically collect low-value consumer checks deposited by customers. The program, which began as a pilot in 2010, will evolve into an opt-in program later in the second quarter.

Nacha is also investigating how it can leverage its network to standardize account validation for ACH transactions.

"The ACH network provides a common foundation for everyone to build upon to innovate," Estep said.

Nacha's Council for Electronic Billing and Payment is releasing an industry evaluation of the QR Encoding for Consumer Bill Payment Guidelines, which were published in December.

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