Frequently Asked Questions

Sections:

Faster and Secure Payments Task Forces

1. Where can I get more information on the task forces and work groups referenced in the paper?

2. How do I register to participate on the task forces?

  • Registration is a two-step process, including submission of an online registration form and a signed participation agreement. To register visit the Faster Payments Task Force and Secure Payments Task Force pages and complete the registration form for the task force you would like to join.
    1. Submit the online registration form for the task force you would like to join.
    2. Download, review, sign and send the participation agreement to the Federal Reserve.
      1. Participants may register on behalf of an organization. Participating as part of your professional responsibilities on behalf of an organization requires a signed organization participation agreement. An organization is allowed one representative on each task force. We encourage you to review the participation agreement with your legal counsel before signing.
      2. Once you have reviewed the agreement, sign and email, fax or mail your signed participation agreement to the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. Agreements sent via email or fax must include a scanned hand signature. Electronic signatures are not permissible.

        Email:
        ccc.bankservices@kc.frb.org
        Fax: 877-281-3647
        Mail: Customer Contact Center, P.O. Box 219416, Kansas City, MO 64121-9416

3. Why do I need the organization participation agreement?

  • You should fill out the organization agreement if you will be participating as the designated representative of an organization. Remember only one participant per organization can participate on each task force.
  • An individual agreement may be provided upon request if you will be participating as an individual and not representing an organization or participating as part of your professional responsibilities with an organization.
  • To request an individual agreement please contact us at fedcommunications@fedpaymentsimprovement.org
  • Individual registrations received that are associated with an organization will need to submit an organization agreement.

4. Who is invited to participate on the task forces? What is the selection criteria to participate?

  • The Federal Reserve is looking for a committed and diverse membership to help ensure the perspectives of all U.S. payment system participants are considered and task force outcomes are in the public interest.
  • The task forces are open to all payment system stakeholders, including financial institutions of all sizes, technology service providers, payment network operators, business end users, consumer end users and fraud/cyber-attack prevention providers. An organization will be allowed one representative on each of the task forces.
  • Interested individuals and organizations may register via the Faster Payments Task Force and Secure Payments Task Force pages. Participants are expected to comply with the terms of the task force participation agreement. The Federal Reserve encourages participation from interested stakeholders who exhibit the following characteristics:
    • Payment system stakeholders with demonstrated, relevant industry knowledge and experience
    • Commitment and/or experience with public-private partnerships that indicates an ability to consider a broad public policy perspective and openness to support solutions that serve the broader public interest
    • Experience in and up-to-date, broad knowledge of financial services and the U.S. payment system

5. How many participants will be on the task forces?

We do not have a limit on the number of participants on the task force. We are committed to a very inclusive approach to the task forces to help ensure the perspectives of all U.S. payment system participants are considered and task force outcomes are in the public interest.

6. What type of governance structure will be in place for the task forces?

  • The task forces are each chaired by a Federal Reserve executive. The chair is responsible for facilitating open discussion and ensuring all stakeholders have a fair opportunity to share their views.
  • A Steering Committee comprised of task force members was formed to advise the chair on task force meeting agendas and assist in prioritizing the various work efforts. The Committee will also assist in determining the scope of task force work groups, synthesizing task force perspectives and determining items in need of full task force deliberation.
  • The Committee will consist of approximately fifteen task force members elected to a seat by participants associated with a particular stakeholder category. The seats on the Committee will seek to reflect a balanced representation of all stakeholder categories as defined by the Chair.

7. How will the Fed ensure that smaller players are part of the conversation on the task forces?

  • The Task Forces are open to all interested payments industry stakeholders, regardless of their size. We encourage small players from any industry segment to participate in the task force, run for a seat in the steering committee and contribute extensively to work group efforts.
  • The composition of the Steering Committee will be designed to reflect a balanced representation of payment stakeholder categories.

8. How much time do you expect each task force participant to set aside in order to participate? Where will the in-person meetings take place?

  • Time commitment will vary depending on role of the participant. There are four different ways participants can engage in task force work and most will require in-person meetings. The following provides an example for each role:
    • Payments Community participants may join the FedPayments Improvement Community to follow progress and provide input on task force work products. Task force meeting materials and work products will generally be shared publically, as appropriate, for broad stakeholder review. Expected time commitment is up to the participant discretion.
    • Task Force participants will be asked to attend periodic in-person meetings, projected to be quarterly. Additional meetings via conference or video calls may be scheduled, as needed. You can expect to spend approximately 40-50 hours quarterly as a task force participant.
    • Elected Steering Committee members will be required to attend additional in-person meetings, as well as additional meetings via conference or video calls. Information will be exchanged electronically. You can expect to spend approximately 70-90 hours quarterly as a steering committee participant.
    • Work group participants may be invited or volunteer to participate in work groups. Participation in work groups will be critical to successful achievement of the objectives of the task force, and members are strongly encouraged to participate, as needed. Meetings may be held in person or via conference or video calls at the discretion of work group leadership. You can expect to spend approximately 80-120 hours quarterly as a work group participant.

9. How can I stay informed and provide input on task force efforts if I don’t participate on the task forces?

You may join the FedPayments Improvement Community to follow their progress and provide input on task force work products. Task force meeting materials and work products will be shared publicly, as appropriate, with materials posted for broad stakeholder review on various pages on FedPaymentsImprovement.org.

10. Who should I contact if I have a question about the participation agreement?

You should consult your legal counsel on any questions you have on the participation agreement obligations. Should your legal counsel have questions, they may request follow up from Federal Reserve attorneys by submitting a request via the Contact Us form.

11. How can I verify my task force participation agreement has been received?

You may submit questions via the Contact Us form to request a status update on your signed agreement. Please allow up to five business days for processing of the signed participation agreement. Once the signed participation agreement is processed, participants will receive an email confirming registration is complete.

12. Why is the participation agreement titled “Amended and Restated”?

In support of our goal to facilitate broad participation from payment system stakeholders, we released an updated participation agreement for both the Faster and Secure Payments Task Forces in March of 2016. Substantive changes were made around the areas of Fair, Reasonable, and Non-Discriminatory (FRAND) licensing, representations and warranties, and copyright in order to address business concerns. If you would like to know more about the changes made to the participation agreement, please see the Summary of Changes memo(s) for the Faster and/or Secure Payments Task Force participation agreement.

Business Payments Coalition

1. What is the Business Payments Coalition?

The Business Payments Coalition is a group of organizations and individuals working together to promote greater use of electronic business-to-business (B2B) payments and electronic remittance data exchanges. The Coalition accomplishes this objective by addressing various problems and barriers that make it difficult for businesses to use electronic alternatives to paper checks and remittance advices. For more details visit the Business Payments Coalition page.

2. How is the Business Payments Coalition connected with the faster and more secure payments initiatives?

The Business Payments Coalition is a separate effort, as it is a volunteer organization devoted to building adoption of electronic business to business (B2B) payments and remittance exchanges. The Business Payments Coalition does share a common mission with the faster and secure Payment Task Forces, in that all these groups are striving to improve the end-to-end efficiency and security of payments in the U.S. B2B payments space.

3. Companies are currently challenged with payments integration, for example the use of QuickBooksTM, software dominantly utilized by small businesses. What work has been done with software providers to build better integration so that electronic payments and payment data can be exchanged?

The Business Payments Coalition has an active Vendors Forum which brings together software and technology vendors in order to help build awareness of common business processes and practices as well as standards that will lead to greater integration of electronic payments and associated payment data.

4. Will the Business Payments Coalition be offering additional webinar opportunities?

Yes, in addition to the three webinars we offered in 2015:

We plan to offer additional education opportunities. Keep an eye on the Fed Events page for specific dates and registration opportunities.

Small Business Payments Toolkit

1. What is the Small Business Payments Toolkit?

The Small Business Payments Toolkit (PDF) is a tool for small businesses, and the bankers and advisors who serve them, who are interested in learning more about payments. The toolkit is intended to encourage the adoption of electronic business-to-business (B2B) payments and remittance information exchanges by small businesses. The toolkit was produced by the Business Payments Coalition, a group of organizations and individuals volunteering to promote greater use of electronic business-to-business (B2B) payments and electronic remittance data exchanges.

2. Will the Business Payments Coalition be presenting the Small Business Payments Toolkit (PDF) at any industry events?

Yes, members of the Business Payments Coalition and Federal Reserve will be in Orlando, Florida for the ASBDC conference September 19-22. Check Industry Events page for more specific information as it becomes available.

3. Can the toolkit be edited to add our branding or remove products or services we don’t currently offer, for example International ACH Transactions (IAT)?

Yes, the toolkit is not copyrighted and users are welcome to edit or change it to meet their specific business needs. For example, a bank can add its name and logo before distributing it to small business clients. The Toolkit is a PDF document and you can edit it using the Adobe Professional program.

4. Can the toolkit be used to help non-profit organizations transition from checks to electronic payments, including using credit cards to make donations. Our institution has a religious organization that is interested in getting its congregation to donate money electronically on a regular basis to help drive a more predictable cash flow. What do you recommend to help ease the process as we set up this organization to take electronic donations?

  • It’s important to outline the potential fees that non-profit organizations will incur to take electronic donations. Also, it’s helpful to explain the difference in fees for ACH transactions, credit cards and debit cards. Usually ACH fees are a flat per item fee and interchange is a percentage of the amount of the transaction. If the organization wants to use both, it could use a combination of accepting credit cards, but use ACH in place of debit cards to lessen the fees incurred.
  • This is a training opportunity that once explained will help the non-profits keep administrative costs down, which may be more in alignment with the non-profits operations goals. Ideally, education for donors will highlight the win-win aspect of moving to electronic payments such as credit cards and ACH. Historically, once someone signs up to be an auto donor they continue indefinitely which is also a positive outcome for the organization in predicting their cash flow. It is much easier to have money taken out monthly than for the donor to “remember” to give.
  • For religious organizations there are potential social norms that may deter donors from using the auto-pay option. Providing options such as reusable “Auto Giver” cards that can be put into the collection plate may make donors feel more comfortable about selecting the auto-pay option while still being able to participate in the ceremonial aspect of passing the plate. Organizations can also enhance the authorizations to allow donors to select donation options such as, tithe, building fund, missions fund, etc. In addition, religious organizations often provide services including day care for which they charge fees. This is ideal for ACH withdrawals. These options apply to many types of non-profit and charitable organizations.

5. What types of payments fraud are most concerning for small businesses?

  • Some of the victims of corporate account takeovers have been small and mid-sized businesses, so that is an area of concern. Businesses should look at best practices for protecting their PCs and their online banking credentials and sessions; for example, a dedicated PC for online banking, or at least limiting use of PCs used for online banking from being able to surf the net, check personal email or visit social media sites. For more information check out NACHA’s “Sound Business Practices for Companies to Mitigate Corporate Account Takeover.” (PDF) In addition, the Toolkit (PDF) has a section outlining the most common types of payments fraud that small businesses are likely to see.
  • Small businesses will need to be on the lookout as the fraud landscape in the U.S. changes. For example, a small business accepting credit cards may not currently see much credit card fraud. However, as the “big-box” merchants roll out EMV chip-card acceptance, and the liability shift associated with the EMV migration goes into effect Oct. 1, 2015 (or 2017 for automated fuel dispensers), savvy fraudsters may start to target small businesses that do not have EMV chip card-accepting devices.

Converting to ACH

6. Is there an online calculator available to illustrate the savings of converting to ACH for our customer?

Yes, visit www.electronicpayments.org. The site provides resources for individuals, businesses of all sizes and financial institutions.

7. Which is the most cost effective option for commercial clients, ACH or wire transfer?

It truly depends on the business type. ACH is the more cost effective option, but is not always an option. For example, a trucking company that uses ComData or other options for drivers fuel and expenses. They can use both, funding their account with ACH on a regular schedule then using a wire for any large expenses that needed to be funded immediately. A common approach is IF you know 1-2 days in advance, use ACH with addenda; if not, use a wire.

8. International bank accounts can be difficult to maintain. What are some barriers to doing more international banking and what are some of the potential solutions?

For both international and domestic banking, customers should consider an account that is used ONLY for electronic payments just in case the account number is compromised (UPIC is an option to consider.) In addition, put an ACH debit block on your check writing account and add positive pay. Finally, keep a small balance in the electronic account and transfer funds to and from main account as needed. WATCH your account daily!

9. A colleague is a landlord. They tried ACH and were met with the challenge of insufficient funds in the accounts when the ACH payment was scheduled. In addition, their bookkeeper found it difficult to determine which renters had paid and how much because the bank grouped rents together in one amount. Checks appeared individually on the online banking statement making reconcilement efforts much easier. How can a small business, such as a landlord and their bookkeeper, effectively switch from check to ACH for rental payments?

  • Insufficient funds can be reduced by choosing an effective date based on typical paydays. For example, the 1st and 15th are popular paydays. If they cater to seniors, the 3rd is an effective date as most Social Security Payments are paid at that time. The funds are normally “held” the morning of effective date reducing the chances of the rent being insufficient by limiting debit card use and check cashing to available funds (checks are usually presented last.)
  • Your banker can be a great resource to accommodate your needs for converting to ACH. Communicate your individual needs and your banker should work with you to develop a solution as to how to enter the data into the software to allow for ease of reporting and account reconcilement. For reconcilement your colleague should contact their financial institution and request reports showing the content of each group. They can also try entering payments in groups — for example, a group per apartment building, etc.

10. What options does my business have for creating ACH files such as payments/payroll files/templates to provide to my financial institution during disaster recovery or in the event online banking systems go down?

Consider signing up for a “Buddy Bank”. This offers the ability to enter a payroll into the ACH processing system, but keep in mind this can be time consuming. Depending on the challenge, mother nature, construction, traffic incident, etc., your institution can provide options for you to ensure you can process your ACH transactions such as allowing you to enter your data directly at the branch running on generators and/or contact you to verify your status and coordinate options.

QuickBooks is a registered trademark and/or registered service mark of Intuit Inc.

Note: The Small Business Payments Toolkit was created by the Small Business Coalition and is intended to be used as a resource. Views expressed here are not necessarily those of, and should not be attributed to, any particular Small Business Coalition participant or organization. Views are not intended to provide business or legal advice, nor are they intended to promote or advocate a specific action, payment strategy, or product. Consult with your own business and legal advisors.