Leading accounts payable platform Paymerang recently published a new report to its blog about the dangers of managing ACH transactions in-house and how finance teams can use technology to help mitigate those risks.

Companies frequently use Automated Clearing House (ACH) transactions to pay suppliers and vendors. Some 1.7 billion B2B transactions were made via ACH in the third quarter of 2023, a 9.6 percent increase from a year earlier, per NACHA, which governs the ACH Network.

From streamlined processes and lower costs to improved tracking and easier reconciliation, paying suppliers via ACH offers businesses tremendous operations efficiencies over paper checks. But managing ACH transactions in-house also carries significant risk.

  • Security risk. Buyers that manage ACH payments in-house must collect and store banking details for suppliers. The smallest gap in how this sensitive financial information is handled can leave a business vulnerable to data theft and cyberattacks, resulting in financial losses and reputational damage. For instance, there is the risk of internal fraud or theft by staff who have access to banking information. What’s more, buyers must authenticate the ownership of bank account details, to ensure that they don’t fall victim to Business Email Compromise (BEC) attacks, account takeovers, vendor impersonation, and other email-based schemes. No wonder that 25 percent of accounts payable leaders surveyed by the Institute of Finance and Management (IOFM) identify high risk of fraud as their department’s biggest challenge.
  • Compliance headaches. Buyers that manage ACH payments in-house are responsible for complying with various laws and regulations governing how ACH transactions are managed. Running afoul of these complex and seemingly ever-changing regulations can result in fines as high as $500,000 per month, reputational damage, and suspension from the ACH Network.
  • Inefficiencies. Collecting, authenticating, and managing supplier banking details can be a big burden for businesses, especially those with limited staff. Inefficiencies in how ACH payments are handled can divert staff from higher-order activities and result in delayed payments, reconciliation issues, and missed opportunities to streamline operations.
  • Erroneous payments. A lack of expertise in managing ACH payments can lead to costly mistakes that waste staff time on rework, strain supplier relationships, delay the financial close, impair decision-making, and increase the possibility of fraudulent payments.
  • Operations issues. Without the right expertise, it can be hard for AP departments that manage ACH payments in-house to scale their operations to support business growth. Some departments become too dependent on individuals with the knowledge of how ACH works. And in-house ACH solutions may lack redundancy if financial operations are disrupted.

As a result, AP departments frequently partner with fintech platforms and other third-party solutions providers to collect and store banking details and manage ACH transactions on their behalf.

Using a Fintech or other third-party solutions provider overcomes the dangers of collecting and storing banking details and processing ACH transactions in-house in several ways:

  • Ironclad security. The solutions provided by Fintechs and other third parties incorporate user permissions, data encryption, authorization protocols, audit logging and other controls to safeguard payments and sensitive financial information. The measures provided by third parties are typically more advanced than what a company can implement and are more frequently updated. Third parties may even employ tools verifying bank account ownership and Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) for securely integrating with a buyer’s ERP.
  • Real-time reporting. The solutions provided by Fintechs and other third parties typically provide real-time visibility into the status of transactions, so users can track ACH payments and easily investigate irregularities. Automatic syncing of payment information with a buyer’s ERP or accounting software also helps uncover suspicious activity more quickly.
  • Fraud monitoring. Fintechs and other third parties use artificial intelligence (AI)-powered software and dedicated teams of accounts payable experts to identify anomalous payments, before they are processed. AI-powered technology can analyze a buyer’s historical payment data to identify unusually large transactions from a particular supplier or an atypical number of invoices from a supplier. Flagged transactions can be accepted, reviewed, or rejected.
  • Compliance expertise. Fintechs and other third parties are experts in complying with regulations for processing ACH payments and managing bank account details. Leveraging a third party’s compliance know-how reduces the possibility of inadvertent violations.
  • White glove support. Leading Fintechs offer dedicated customer support teams to help onboard suppliers, resolve payment issues, and manage changes to bank account details.

Paying suppliers via ACH offers big benefits over checks. But the dangers of collecting and storing banking details and managing ACH payments in-house can make it difficult for buyers to achieve the full benefits of digital payments. By partnering with a Fintech, buyers can streamline their operations, reduce their risk, and enhance service to suppliers.

You can read Paymerang’s full report about the risks of managing ACH transactions in-house at: https://www.paymerang.com/blog/the-dangers-of-managing-ach-transactions-in-house/

Learn more about Paymerang’s AP automation solutions: https://www.paymerang.com/

About Paymerang

Paymerang provides a streamlined invoice and payment automation platform that brings Accounts Payable (AP) departments into the modern age. Paymerang's platform saves AP departments thousands of hours annually, enhances visibility, increases accuracy, improves efficiency, and earns rebates while reducing paper, fraud risks, and operating costs. Learn more at https://www.paymerang.com/.

Anthony Burket