The Bahamas Automated Clearing House (BACH) went live on January 22.

*“The advent of the Clearing House will affect every single person who deposits money to a chequing account, writes a cheque or wishes to pay a bill online,”* said Brian Smith, BACH Business Manager. *“By speeding up the time it takes for deposits to clear, it will provide a boost to businesses, particularly those that depend for much of their revenue on cheques from customers. Individuals will benefit as well because they will have access to the B$ cheques they deposit on Monday as early as Tuesday.”* Effectively, the system allows next day clearing of Bahamian dollar cheques through confidential, automated clearing. Capacity and functionality of businesses and individuals who conduct their business through the clearing banks will be enhanced, and employers will be able to directly deposit funds into employees’ accounts at any clearing bank.

All seven clearing banks are participating in the system: Bank of The Bahamas Limited, Citibank, N.A., Commonwealth Bank, Fidelity Bank (Bahamas) Ltd., FirstCaribbean International Bank (Bahamas), RBC Royal Bank of Canada and Scotiabank.

In addition to reducing deposit clearance time from up to five days down to one, BACH will expand online bill payment and commerce. According to Mr. Smith, *“Within three months of the ACH going into effect, banks will be able to accommodate interbank transfers as easily as they do intra-bank transfers now.”* In addition to direct deposits being made to any account in the system, even if the employer and employee bank at different institutions, the same principle will apply to bill payments.

The secure interbank settlement system is owned by the Clearing Banks in The Bahamas, with regulatory oversight provided by the Central Bank. *”The Automated Clearing House will revolutionise and modernize banking in The Bahamas,”* maintains Mr. Smith.