The National Automated Clearing House Association has announced that Sam S. Cerverizzo, a senior vice president at Chemical Banking Corp., will be the next chairman of its board of directors.
Mr. Cerverizzo, who begins his two-year term next June, said his top goals will be to improve security measures and expand the types of payments accepted over the automated clearing house system.
"We've got to be certain that as we continue to grow, we do it in an intelligent way with good service to customers, profits for banks, and good controls on risk," Mr. Cerverizzo said in an interview.
Designed to Ease Payments
The automated clearing house is a series of payment networks run by the Federal Reserve and regional bank associations that was designed in the 1970s as a low-cost alternative to checks.
Mr. Cerverizzo takes the helm of the country's top automated clearing house trade group at a time of steady growth in the number ACH transactions.
More than 1.7 billion payments were made through the automated clearing house in 1991, a total that is expected to rise 18% to nearly two billion payments in 1992.
But as volume rises, many bankers are becoming concerned that the system could be stung by fraud, possibly incurring multimillion-dollar losses.
Red Flag Raised
Fueling the concern was the disclosure earlier this year that First Interstate Bancorp was involved in a questionable $70 million automated clearing house transaction that is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Many experts argue that security controls on the automated clearing house simply aren't effective enough, given the increasing number of large-dollar payments sent through the system.
Now, under association rules, clearing house payments can total up to $ 100 million. Many experts, including John R. Mohr, executive vice president of the New York Clearing House, argue that transaction values should be capped at $1 million to limit clearing house exposure and push large payments through the more secure Fed Wire and Chips networks.
Mr. Cerverizzo said he agrees that clearing house payments should be capped at a lower value than is now permitted. But he didn't specifically endorse the $1 million limit.
"I think [a cap] is one way to limit exposure," Mr. Cerverizzo said. "That's something that will be addressed during my term."
To bring in more payments to the clearing house system, Mr. Cerverizzo said he favors a rule change that would help consumers use the clearing house network to pay for stock.