The payment data provider Accuity, the longtime registrar of U.S. banks' routing numbers, has acquired CB.Net, a London company that provides a similar service to European banks.
Hugh Jones, Accuity's president, said that consolidating the routing numbers for U.S. and European banks would cut down on returned payments for businesses and reduce costs.
The acquisition, which was completed in late 2008 and is expected to be announced today, "brings us one step closer to becoming a single source of payment information," Mr. Jones said in an interview Monday. He did not give a price for the purchase. Accuity, of Skokie, Ill., is a unit of SourceMedia Inc., which publishes American Banker.
Accuity has been the American Bankers Association's official registrar for U.S. banks' routing numbers since 1911. Businesses need these numbers to direct payments to one another.
About 75% of the electronic payments routed through the average bank go through smoothly, Mr. Jones said, but Accuity's data can increase that figure by about 15% to 20%, he said.
Nancy Atkinson, a senior analyst at the Boston research and advisory firm Aite Group LLC, said Accuity's information about U.S. banks and CB.Net's European data make a good pairing given the growing volume of international payments.
"Having a single repository for routing numbers that banks can access makes the payment process easier," she said, "and it's going to become more important."
After so much consolidation in the banking industry, some corporate customers may not have the correct routing numbers for their trading partners' banks, she said. "It's very hard for corporates to stay on top of the correct routing numbers," she said.
When a payment is misdirected because of an incorrect routing number, it is the sending company that provided the data that is held liable, not the bank that handled the payment, Ms. Atkinson said.
She agreed that there would be fewer returned payments with a centralized source of accurate routing numbers. "Having a single entity with all that information should facilitate payments," she said.