HERNDON, Va. - The National Automated Clearing House Association recently approved several amendments to the network's operating rules.

One of the changes will require financial institutions that receive payment files from automated clearing house operators to make those funds available at the start of the next business day, provided the bank receives them before 5 p.m. local time.

Before the rule change, sending such files required a two-day lead time. Now, companies and their banks on the origination side can send payment files one day before.

This may lead to an increased demand for direct deposit of payroll because corporations will have more time to make the payments, said Linda O'Hara, the senior director of network services for the clearing house.

"It's been a long term strategic goal of Nacha to take advantage of shorter processing schedules to accommodate corporate use of the ACH for direct deposit," Ms. O'Hara said.

She also said that the rule change will reduce the so-called settlement risk for the originating bank. Temporal risk occurs between the time that the file is sent to the clearing house operator and the settlement date.

The rule changes, which become effective in April, are among several that will be the focus of an upcoming seminar in New York. The seminar, called 1995 ACH Rules and EFT Update, will be sponsored by White Papers Inc., Montclair, N.J.

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