- Heavy U.S. digital payments flow continued in the second quarter with the national ACH Network logging another quarterly record, reporting a 9.9% increase in volume over the year-ago quarter to 7.3 billion payments, according to Nacha, formerly known as the National Automated Clearing House Association. The quarterly value of the transactions jumped an even bigger 24.6%, to $18.4 trillion. It was at least the sixth consecutive quarter of volume increases, based on Nacha data.
- Those digital payments processed by the major U.S. banks swelled partly on a 14.3% rise in internet payments, which climbed to 2.2 billion, and a 28.7% increase in business-to-business transactions, which climbed to 1.3 billion payments, the association said. Healthcare payments shot up 35.7 percent to an all-time high of 108 million payments.
- “While the B2B segment was growing before the pandemic, the transformation of business payments from paper has greatly accelerated over the past year,” Nacha CEO Jane Larimer said. She also noted “medical and dental providers are increasingly realizing the many advantages that come with having claims directly deposited to their accounts.”
The ACH Network, which is a national automated payments system with government and private sector participation, has logged a number of payments traffic records since the highly contagious COVID-19 pandemic last year forced consumers, businesses and the government to pursue more transactions online.
Now, pent-up demand is likely contributing to a burst of payment activity too, as they spend on goods and services they put off when government restrictions were keeping people at home to thwart the spread of the virus. With vaccines being rolled out this year, more people and businesses are returning to their routines and making catch-up expenditures. Payment activity in the second quarter rose about 3% in terms of volume over this year's first quarter, and about 6% with respect to transaction value.
Still, the first quarter set records too. In February, the network recorded the highest daily average with 118 million payments per day and in March it tallied the biggest monthly volume with 2.7 billion payments.
The ACH figures for the second quarter continued to show a payment preference for debit over credit, with 4.1 billion debit transactions and 3.2 credit transactions. The figures track the top 50 bank originators and receivers of payments.
Recent earnings reports from the biggest U.S. card network companies underscore the ongoing transaction increases. Visa, the biggest U.S. card network company, said its payments volume for the second-quarter this year was 34% higher than last year and No. 2 Mastercard similarly said gross dollar volume was 33% higher for the quarter over the year-ago period.
Even before the pandemic, it was clear that digital payments are now an integral part of the U.S. financial system, with the ACH figures regularly setting records. Annual volume has climbed by more than a billion annually in each of the past six years and the annual value has expanded by more than $1 trillion in each of the last eight years, according to Nacha.
Last year, Nacha logged another annual record, with an 8.2% jump in volume to 26.8 billion payments over 2019, and a 10.8% increase in value to $61.9 trillion.