A forthcoming joint payments venture between Wells Fargo and Bank of America, through which both banks will share a platform to process their automated clearing house transactions, continues to percolate debate. Nearly a year after both banks announced the partnership, dubbed Pariter Solutions, many payments observers and bankers are on the fence on whether a centralization of two of the nation's largest ACH originators - while good for cost benefits between the two partners - would wring the efficiency out of ACH for rest of the industry.

Insiders like George Thomas, a former executive with the Clearing House Payment Co.'s Electronic Payment Network - one of the industry's two ACH processors, along with the Fed - have warned Pariter might evolve into a bilateral model that could divert billions of payments from the ACH network. That would add costs to other institutions that depend on the network to clear more than 18 billion interbank transactions a year, says Thomas.

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