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Money transfers key terms

Automated Clearing House (ACH)

An ACH is an electronic fund transfer made between banks and credit unions across what is called the Automated Clearing House network.

ACH is used for all kinds of fund transfer transactions, including direct deposit of paychecks and monthly debits for routine payments. Merchants often enable consumers to pay bills via ACH by providing an account number and bank routing number. A number of online payment services also conduct transactions via ACH, including most banks and credit unions’ online bill payment services.

Remittance transfer

Federal law defines “remittance transfers” as most electronic money transfers from consumers in the United States through “remittance transfer providers” to recipients abroad.

Remittance transfers are commonly known as “international wires,” “international money transfers,” or “remittances.” Under federal law, remittance transfers do not include transfers of less than $15.

Remittance transfer provider

Under federal law, a remittance transfer provider is a business that transfers money electronically for consumers to people and businesses in foreign countries. These companies include many money transmitters, banks, and credit unions, and possibly other types of financial services companies.

Virtual currencies

Virtual currencies, such as Bitcoin, are a way for people to track, store, and send value over the Internet. Some people and businesses accept them as a form of payment, treating virtual currencies like a foreign currency or form of money – though virtual currencies are not backed by a government or central bank.

Wire transfer

The term “wire transfer” is often used to refer to any electronic transfer of money from one person to another.

The term “wire transfer” also has a more narrow technical meaning, referring to one certain method of transferring funds, which usually involves an electronic transfer of funds from one bank or credit union account to another. In general, wire transfers that are made by consumers from the United States to other countries are considered "remittance transfers" under federal law.