We’re rolling out a new feature to keep you compliant with ACH regulations. The National Automated Clearing House Association (or if you like acronyms, NACHA) is now requiring any new, first-time payments from an account to be validated before accepting the first payment made. We’re implementing this in our system effective on September 1, 2021.

The good news? No action is needed on your part as Nelnet Payment Services keeps you compliant. We validate, in real time, any new account numbers to see if the account is open and will accept ACH entries before a payment is processed, reducing some types of returns. To help with this, we’re partnering with GIACT, a preferred validation partner of NACHA. GIACT provides real-time validation at the time a bank account is provided for payment. This allows us to process payments for you immediately without introducing friction into the payment experience.

It’s important to note that validation will help with some returns, like closed or non-transactional account, you could still see other returns, like non-sufficient funds. Also, if an account has been accepted by your organization before March 19, 2021, you won’t need to validate them again (unless they change their payment account).

The Goals of the New Rule

This new ACH validation rule seeks to accomplish two primary goals:

  • To protect the integrity of transactions flowing through the ACH system
  • To protect receiving banks (RDFIs) from posting fraudulent, incorrect, or unauthorized payments

It’s interesting to note that the use of online debits has been growing for the past few years.  With the increase in digital payments due to COVID-19, ACH and other non-cash payments may continue to be commonplace. In 2020 there was a rise in ACH payments, with over 27 billion payments made in the calendar year. With this rule, NACHA is addressing the need for more security for online payments processed through their network. Since your organization is being paid and is the entry point to receive the account number, you are in the best position to prevent fraud.

If you have any questions, contact our Client Services team at or 866.431.4637.


Angela Nielsen

Manager of Product Development, Nelnet Payment Services

Angela is an Accredited ACH Professional, Accredited Payments Risk Professional, and a Certified Payments Professional, with over a decade of experience serving the education and nonprofit space. For Nelnet, she works to define and realize the product roadmap, focusing on the development of integrated payment and billing systems serving customers in the US and internationally. She is an active member of the NACHA Payments Innovation Alliance, a participant in the EPCOR Third Party Sender Committee, and has a passion for powering the payments that help organizations serve their mission. Based in Omaha, she enjoys spending free time with family and friends, cooking with her husband, and spoiling their pets.