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ACH API FAQ
What is ACH?
ACH is a cost effective, simple way to make payments. ACH transactions, no matter how they originate (through the API, or thru a file based transfer or thru our Online Banking portal), all must conform to standard NACHA rules. ACH is a batch-based, store-and-forward process. All ACH transactions are transmitted by SVB to the Fed at set intervals throughout the day.
What is an ACH credit?
ACH credits push funds from your account to merchants, vendors or other parties. Common use cases are payroll, expense reports and vendor payments. ACH credits can be performed on consumer or commercial accounts and can be same-day or future dated transactions. You must be set up within the ACH API with appropriate permissions to perform ACH credits.
What is an ACH debit?
ACH debit is a method to 'pull' funds from another account. Common use cases are mortgage payments, HOA dues, gym memberships, ecommerce payments, etc. You must obtain permission (authorization) from the owner of the account to pull funds from their account. ACH debits can be performed on consumer or commercial accounts and can be same-day or future dated transactions. You must be set up within the ACH API with appropriate permissions to perform ACH debits.
Can I originate both debit and credit ACH transactions?
Yes, but originating debits requires additional approval. See your Global Treasury and Product Advisor.
What are ACH SEC Codes?
A Standard Entry Class (SEC) Code is the three character code that identifies the payment type and formatting requirements. The SEC code is found within the ACH Company/Batch Header record of the ACH File. The range of SEC Codes that you want to use must be specified in your enrollment agreement with SVB.
Can we use a non-SVB account as the sender / origination account for a transaction?
As it relates to SVB's ACH offering, a requirement of the NACHA rules is that SVB must be party to one side of the transaction. As such, when you generate a transaction, either the account number from which you send funds or the account from which you receive funds must be an SVB account.
Is there a way to validate that the receiving account number is correct?
As the originator, it is important that you verify the receiving account information before initiating a transaction. SVB sends the transactions to the Fed based on the information provided; if the information is not valid, the receiving bank returns the transaction.
Are pre-notes available via the API?
Yes, this is available. A pre-note is a zero dollar transaction that you send out to a particular recipient to see if you get a return.
What causes a Return?
Most often transactions are returned due to an incorrect account number, invalid routing number, closed account etc. for the recipient account. A return can also happen if the recipient does not approve of the transaction.
What is ‘prefunded’?
SVB will take the funds from your account prior to sending to the Federal Reserve.
When will the money be in our bank account from the ACH debit transactions we've initiated?
- For non-same-day debit transactions (transactions that pull funds), funds will post to your account the morning of the effective entry date (around 5am PT). They will also pull the funds from the other Financial Institution on that date.
- If the debit transaction is a same-day transaction, funds will post to your account the same day, roughly 5:00p PT.
When will the money be debited (pulled) from our bank account from the ACH credit transactions we've initiated?
- Generally, credit transactions (that push funds), will post to your account the day they are sent to the bank – i.e. if you send on Monday, the funds will be pulled out of your account on Monday, and the remitted funds will be posted on the effective date of the transaction at the other institution. The NACHA rules say they must be available by “opening of business” at the recipient Financial Institution.
- If the credit transaction is a same-day transaction, funds will be pulled from your account intraday, prior to sending the file to the other bank, and the funds will be available at 5:00 PM of the recipient bank’s local time.
What is Same-Day ACH?
Most ACH transactions are settled on the next business day. Same-day ACH settles on the same business day.
What are the rules around Same Day ACH?
There are 3 parameters that all have to be met to have the transaction settle on a same day basis:1. The service field must be set to 'same-day'.
2. The transaction must be received by SVB by 9:00am PT (it can be sent the previous day if the previous day is a holiday or weekend or after 7:00pm PT of a previous business day)
3. The transaction must be $25,000 or less.
Same-day transactions can be future-dated, but SVB does not recommend this.
What are the same-day ACH cut-off timings and the time zone in which they operate?
Transactions sent between 7:00pm PT the night before and up to 9:00am PT the same business day can qualify for same day posting. The 'service' field must also be set to 'same-day'. If the service field is set to 'standard' or blank, even if it is sent within the appropriate same-day hours, it will be sent out as a next day transaction.
Is there a pricing difference for same day ACH payments?
Yes. Same Day ACH is a premium service that incurs an additional per item charge. It is available for both debits and credits.
ACH API Usage
What is the ACH API?
The ACH API is an ACH transaction origination application programming interface. It simplifies the method of creating the NACHA format required to send the ACH transaction into the network.
Will our ACH transaction requests process immediately?
Clients can submit ACH transactions requests to SVB 24x7, however, given the limitations of the ACH Network, SVB generates and sends out the NACHA files to the Fed at predefined intervals on business days only. ACH transactions submitted through the API are still subject to the same NACHA rules and turn-around time as any other ACH transaction submitted through any other channel (SVB Online Banking or via FTP).
How long does it take for a transaction to move from “processing” to “succeeded”?
Three business days if SVB has not received a return. (Background: The ACH network does not provide positive confirmation of transaction completion. SVB marks ACH items sent via the API as successful after 3 business days following the effective date based on our knowledge of the network given that the majority of returns come back in the first 3 business days. Returns can continue to come back after that time, based on the NACHA rules.)
10/5– Fri Day Zero - you send SVB a request and SVB sends it to the Fed.
10/6 – 10/7 – Weekend. No activity.
10/8– Mon Day One - effective entry date –return clock starts here.
10/10 – Tues Day Two - by End-of-Day – return typically sent back to SVB
10/11 – Wed Day Three – SVB marks the item as successful if we haven’t received a return.
My transaction came back as ‘succeeded’ but now it’s showing as ‘failed’ – what happened?
We mark items as 'Succeeded' 3 business days following the effective date (assuming we have not received a return by that time). However, per NACHA rules, a contested transaction could return up to 60+ days after the effective date, which would change the status of your transaction from ‘succeeded’ to ‘failed’.
If the effective date is left blank what happens?
If left blank, the ACH effective date defaults to the next business day. Example: if you send SVB the transaction on Thursday (up until the deadline on 7:00pm PT), we will send out the transaction on Thursday for a Friday effective date.
Can the effective date be back- or future dated?
The API will produce an error if you try to back-date the effective date of a transaction. If you future-date the transaction it will go out to the Fed the business day prior to the effective-date.
What times of day does the system update the ACH status?
ACH status changes occur on the following schedule:
- Pending' to 'Processing' happens a few times per day (3:10, 5:40, 9:10, 12:10, 15:40, 17:10, 19:40 PT – no weekends or holidays).
- Moving from 'Processing' to 'Succeeded' only happens once per day, and is based on not receiving a return in the first 3 business days after the transaction is released to the Fed. (So if you send a transaction on Monday, it goes to the Fed on Tuesday and moves to successful status by EOD on Thursday.)
- Moving from 'Processing' or 'Succeeded' to 'Failed' is based on Returns from the Federal Reserve. That happens up to 4 times per day (6:30, 13:00, 16:30, and 22:00 PT – no weekends or holidays).
We would suggest waiting until at least 40 minutes after each of the above windows for the jobs to finish and transactions to post to the system.
What happens to payments sent to the API on a weekend or holiday - do they get rejected by the API?
Payments are accepted through the API on a 24x7 basis, but they won’t go out to the Fed until the next business day. So for example, if you submit a transaction on a Sunday, it will go out on Monday for a Tuesday settlement date (unless you also set the effective date and service field to ‘same-day’ in which case it will settle on Monday).
What SEC codes are supported by the ACH API?
The API supports three SEC codes: PPD, CCD and WEB. Which SEC codes you use depends on whether the transaction is going to a consumer or a business and how the authorization was obtained.
- PPD - Predetermined Payment & Deposit entries are contractual electronic payments or deposits to a consumer account.
- CCD - Cash Concentration or Disbursement entries are contractual electronic payments or deposits to a corporate account.
- WEB - Web Initiated-Entry. Consumer only - Electronic authorization through the Internet to create an ACH entry. (Use of this SEC Code at SVB requires additional approval and setup.)
How do I know if a transaction has been returned?
The ACH API provides 3 options for seeing return activity:
- Use the API Status Webhook to notify you of any returns via the API
- Query the return status via the Retrieve ACH API
- Review the ACH Returns and Correction notice available via the online banking portal.
Most returns post within three business days (SVB makes them available as soon as we receive them), but it can be much longer for contested transactions (see NACHA rules).
How often should I check the ACH transaction status for returns?
We recommend using webhooks for ACH transaction status updates
If instead of webhooks, you use the Retrieve ACH API, SVB receives returns from the Federal Reserve at 4 pre-defined times during the day (10:00am, 1:30pm, 5:00pm, and 9:00pm PT). You only need to check for returns at these 4 times of day.
What metadata might we want to include as part of the ACH transaction?
Metadata is optional; the intended use is to simplify querying for objects via the API that you can then filter on it in your query (for example, your own reference id). Note that Metadata does not carry on the ACH transaction to the recipient.
Is it possible to create counterparties and create transactions referencing those counterparties, rather than including full bank account details with each request?
This is a future offering that is not yet available.
Do we need to use Network Time Protocol (NTP) on our servers to use the ACH API?
Yes, your server's clock (adjusting for timezones), needs to be in sync with our server's clock, so that the timestamp submitted with your transaction matches within 30 seconds to the timestamp on our end, otherwise the transaction will fail. The server clocks will match, as long you use Network Time Protocol (NTP) on your server.