Nacha is a nonprofit organization that is the steward of the ACH Network, an electronic payment system that universally connects all U.S. bank accounts and enables Direct Deposit and other electronic payments. In 2019, 24.7 billion payments and nearly $56 trillion in value moved across the ACH Network.
In March, as Americans started to feel the impact of Covid-19 with businesses closing and unemployment growing daily, the federal government began work on the largest economic stimulus package in U.S. history — the CARES Act. Nacha, the organization responsible for overseeing the ACH Network, quickly began monitoring one of the most significant parts of the legislation with the help of POLITICO Pro — direct payments to Americans estimated to total up to $300 billion.
On March 17th, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced that the Trump administration was considering offsetting the economic burden of the coronavirus pandemic by "immediately" cutting checks to Americans. Rapidly changing and conflicting information was being shared about how these payments would be delivered to Americans and when.
“Our goal was to communicate to all the stakeholders involved in making the payments that the ACH Network was ready for this historic event,” says William Sullivan, Nacha’s Senior Director and Group Manager, Government and Industry Relations. “Our message was that the ACH was ready for this major event and that the payments could be sent efficiently, safely, and quickly to Americans through Direct Deposit.”
In addition to communicating the ACH Network’s preparedness to the federal government, Nacha also wanted to ensure that its members felt prepared to answer their customer’s questions about how and when stimulus payments would be delivered.
With information about the CARES Act and the delivery of stimulus payments rapidly changing, POLITICO Pro helped Nacha understand the impact to the ACH Network and its members and get up to speed quickly so they could create an effective communications strategy.
“POLITICO Pro’s reporting gives us concise, yet comprehensive information in an easy to read format and be able to run with it,” says Sullivan. Then using POLITICO Pro’s legislative and regulatory trackers, Nacha was able to stay informed. “From monitoring the legislation’s proposal to passage, I was able to understand the intent Congress had for the stimulus payments, and then how Treasury was going to implement the program. I know when I get an alert from Pro, I have to read it immediately so I don’t get blindsided by something.”
In addition to tracking the CARES Act, POLITICO Pro helped Nacha anticipate member questions about how payments would be handled for Americans who don’t typically file tax returns – “I would find out something very nuanced but impactful that the IRS was doing but hadn’t been communicated from POLITICO Pro. Then, using the POLITICO Pro Document Drawer, I was able to go back and find the press release and be able to anticipate the barrage of questions I’d receive the next day from members. It’s been invaluable.”
The Impact: Coming Together as "One Voice"
With the help of POLITICO Pro, Nacha was able to develop a comprehensive communications strategy to signal their member’s preparedness for this event to the federal government. “We were able to help bring all the industry groups together with one voice, so Treasury wasn’t overwhelmed with our questions or suggestions about how to handle payments. We were speaking as one,” said Sullivan.
To date, the ACH Network has processed approximately 120 million Economic Impact Payments, or about 75% of the total Economic Impact payments to citizens under the CARES Act.
“To sum it up, POLITICO Pro can really be the difference between being on your toes and proactive or being completely blindsided, on your heels and reactive.”
This content was produced outside of the POLITICO Pro newsroom.