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ACH to unveil personal money transfers in early 2012

The business manager at the Bahamas Automated Clearing House (ACH) says individual money transfers between banks will finally come to fruition in the beginning of 2012.

The innovation, now commonplace in many areas of the world, is expected to make doing business and everyday banking far easier for Bahamians.

Brian Smith from ACH told Guardian Business it will get done in the time frame”because everyone wants it to get done”.

“It’s part of the evolution of banking in The Bahamas,” he said. “We want to make things more convenient for consumers and they really want it to happen-and it will happen next year.”

Although it is not possible for large employers to do transfers, and for banks to send other banks sums of cash, individuals continue to work through tellers or with checks for everyday services.

The managing director of Bank of The Bahamas (BOB), Paul McWeeney, said the capacity of performing these transactions has not been the issue. Instead, ensuring the security of clients has been a central focus for the ACH.

“The sooner it happens the better. But we had to be satisfied that when debiting someone’s account, it was coming from a legitimate source. All transactions are final and we have to make sure the safeguards are in place,”he toldGuardian Business.

The ACH has made considerable strikes in defending against fraud, he said, and once individual transfers are enabled, ease of doing business in The Bahamas will improve greatly.

At BOB, McWeeney pointed out operations at the bank will be made far easier through the innovation, allowing staff typically wrapped up in these transactions to be freed up for other duties. It will likely reduce queues and wait times at banks as well.

In particular, the world of online banking will take center stage, Smith told Guardian Business.

“It has to make business easier,” he added. “If you’re paying someone directly into their account, there are so many personal transactions for small business owners and other clients that are made simpler. I want to book an airline ticket and I need payment right away, for example. Right now you have to go to a merchant and make a deposit. But if I can credit someone directly, I don’t have to go there. That’s a huge difference.”

Since January 2010, Smith said ACH has been working on projects to make financial services easier for Bahamians. Check clearing was a”big thing”, he said, and then bulk payments came along. Consumer payments are the”next thing”, and then the ACH will fall into a more supervisor role to ensure the system works properly.

“My role is to keep things running. We go from a project mode to a business as usual type of mode,”he explained.

The ACH continues to work with banks and the Central Bank to make sure everyone’s needs are met. The main challenge, he felt, was getting everyone on the same page and facilitating testing.

Individual transfers between banks will undergo a series of further tests before being unveiled to the general public in early 2012.

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