This bank is upgrading its ACH capabilities — that’s the way direct deposits get made, among other things — and it’s turning out to be far more complicated than expected, says a pilot fish on the project.

“In the past, we were using an aggregator who accepted the transactions from us in a simple form,” fish says. “With these changes, we would be going directly to the Federal Reserve banks.

“But the Fed’s 96-byte, fixed-record-length file format was obviously written for punched cards. And there were batch and file header and trailer records, sums of credits and debits individually, check digits on account numbers, and checksums on bank routing numbers. Some actions took multiple records, some had optional additional records.”

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