Q & A with Ryan McCurry of ACHWorks About the Future of Small Business Lending
In a recent chat, deBanked talked with Ryan McCurry, President of ACHWorks. McCurry discussed the future of his company, payments, small business financing, and the impact of digital assets on the industry.
Q (Adam Zaki): Your company recently announced an acquisiton. How does this move help take ACHWorks to where the company wants to go?
A (Ryan McCurry): We are excited to share that ACHWorks was acquired by VeriCheck Inc. on December 31, 2021. VeriCheck Inc. (VCI) is a wholly owned subsidiary of Commercial Bank of California (CBC), who has been one of ACHWorks’ sponsor banks for nearly 20 years.
The acquisition brings more resources, both in terms of staffing and capital to ACHWorks’ business efforts. Conversely, ACHWorks’ sales approach, market specializations and diverse technical capabilities will support VCI’s growth goals. By combining the teams and technology, we believe we will compound our benefits to reach an even higher level of success together.
The great news with this acquisition is that where ACHWorks was weak, VCI is strong. Likewise, ACHWorks has some unique technology and expertise that VCI hadn’t leveraged before and can now capitalize upon.
Furthermore, VCI relies heavily on partnerships with ISO’s and third party gateways for processing ACH payments with a high number of merchants across all sectors, whereas ACHWorks tends to specialize in a few verticals while maintaining direct sales and direct relationships with all merchants – even when the merchant is utilizing an integrated software partner.
Q: Are ACH payments here to stay? With so many ideas floating around in this space, what is the future of ACH?
A: The future of the ACH as a payment system is strong and growing quickly. In 2021, the ACH network grew by 29.1 billion payments valued at $72.6 trillion dollars. Same Day ACH grew by 74% over 2020 and total volume was up almost 9%, continuing a 7-year growth trend. Business-to-business ACH payments grew at a rate above 20% and 33% over the last two years, respectively.
We believe the ACH payments space is going to continue to grow and become a more widely used payment rail, and our acquisition is evidence of that growth.
Q: What is the biggest issue your company is currently overcoming?
A: There are always challenges facing the payments industry. Naturally, as a fintech industry, payments companies regularly face emerging technology, regulatory or legislative activity, and ongoing cybercrime.
Currently, our focus is blending the VCI and ACHWorks teams and evolution of our joint technology. We are pleased to share that VCI hired the entire ACHWorks operational team, and is retaining all of our existing technology and benefits to our clients. Bringing the two platforms and teams together will have exponential benefits for clients and partners moving forward.
Q: The small business financing industry is becoming less reliant on the traditional sales models. How will ACHWorks combat this? Will you help the funders/brokers innovate to help secure the current infrastructure or seek new tech clients that are stepping into the space?
A: There’s the old saying that change is the one constant. Initially, business finance companies only wanted ACH for reoccurring daily debits, and as merchant demographics changed weekly or custom payment frequencies have become more prevalent. However, now about half of our business finance clients use ACHWorks’ technology not just for debiting merchant receivables, but also for sending ACH Credits to merchants for funding a deal, automating syndication payments for participation rates or paying commissions to brokers.
Likewise, ACHWorks offered Same Day ACH capability to our clients on the first day it become available on the ACH Network. The use of Same Day ACH has been slowly increasing as funders utilize it both to fund merchants or to act on a merchants request to charge them today (most common on distressed accounts).
As the funder / broker relationship continues to evolve, ACHWorks will be there to help facilitate the movement of the funds. We hope to leverage our unique status of being owned by a bank to bring new technologies to the business finance industry and other spaces that are under-supported by traditional payment processors. We are excited for these new capabilities to come and will keep the deBanked community updated as we have more to share.
Q: There seems to be a lot of payments companies across fintech. The elephant in the room at Money 20/20 in October was the ‘payments bubble’ taking place. What is your take on this? Is fintech looking too much into payment processing innovation?
A: Automobiles have been around for about 140 years, and yet innovation continues to happen. They have seen the switch from steam to electric, to internal combustion and back to electric. Computer technology has only been common in business usage since the 50’s and the internet has only been heavily used since the late 90’s. When I started in this business, we used to mail our software to clients on a series of 14 floppy disks. I would argue that the innovation and evolution of payments and fintech is only in its infancy.
As technology continues to permeate all walks of life, we expect to see payments leveraged to make commerce more organic with far less friction. Most payment processors I speak with feel that we are the original “fintech” and that the newly emerging “fintech” market is just utilizing the infrastructure we put in place.
Q: Are cryptocurrencies a topic of conversation in your office? Blockchain tech offers major benefits in the payments world. Do you or your company have any thoughts on how this could be leveraged?
A: You can’t escape crypto, it invades all conversations these days. However, our focus is on working with fiat currency and regulated payment channels because we process ACH payments through the Federal Reserve utilizing State or Nationally chartered banks. Don Singer, the CEO of VCI and I were discussing this topic previously, and he told me crypto is the new shiny sports car, or personal aircraft, but we work on the rail road. ACH is not as sexy as crypto, but it moves nearly all of the money in the U.S. Those debit card, credit card, Venmo, Zelle and real time payments systems are just the messaging systems, the money is being moved later that day, and it’s being moved via ACH.Last modified: February 23, 2022
Adam Zaki was a Reporter at deBanked.