One quarter of bankers say they may not be ready to process international automated clearing house transactions by the time new rules take effect in March, according to a survey conducted by the Boston research firm Aite Group LLC.

The IAT standard entry class code unveiled in August by Nacha, the electronic payments association for international ACH transactions includes data fields that institutions can monitor for information such as the originator's and receiver's name, address, account number, depository institution name and payment amount.

Such monitoring is required by the Office of Foreign Assets Control as a way to monitor international transactions and fight terrorist financing and money laundering.

"While IAT is costly and time-consuming for all participants in the ACH network, it will actually prove beneficial to all parties affected," Nancy Atkinson, a senior analyst at Aite Group and co-author of the survey, said Monday in a press release. "The efficiency of the ACH system is based on its batch processing model, and if screening of every transaction were mandated by OFAC, the cost of ACH processing would skyrocket. So, while many ACH participants are feeling harried about making the changes for IAT, the alternative would be much worse."

Aite interviewed executives at 24 banks, a credit union, four ACH system providers, and the two ACH operators to gauge their preparedness for the new code.