This is where the Federal Register comes into play. For those not familiar with this resource, you can find it at www.federalregister.gov. The Federal Register is the daily journal of the United States Government. The Office of the Federal Register (OFR) of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and the U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) jointly administer the Federal Register website. Certain government entities and regulators are required by law to post any potential changes to their rules and regulations on this website and must open them up for public comment prior to making a rule final.
In general, anyone can submit a comment, hence the “public” aspect. You, as an individual, can comment. Your company, your financial institution, basically any entity or group that may be affected by the potential change, can comment. As a matter of fact, Dwolla recently submitted a comment on behalf of its clients and their end users in support of a new Same Day ACH processing window, which would allow for additional hours to submit Same Day ACH files, potentially impacting millions of individuals. You can read our letter here to get an example of how it works and how we advocate for you.
Anything you want, really. But since you are here, you are likely interested in faster payments. There are a couple of easy ways to narrow your scope of interest to this specific area.
First, on the Federal Register website, you can hover over Browse > Agencies and then type in a specific agency to review (for example, the Federal Reserve System). Once you’ve made it to the agency’s page, you will see a couple of headers:, Significant Documents and Recently Published Documents.
Under these headers, you will see the titles of each potential change, which are categorized as follows:
- Notice (N) = Notice and request for comment
- Proposed Rules (PR) = Advance notice of proposed rulemaking, or proposed rule, with request for public comment
- Rules (R) = Final rule, may contain official interpretations
If you click on any one of these items, you will see specific, detailed information on the proposal or rule, including the following:
- Issuing agency
- High-level summary
- Dates (this may be the due date for comments to be submitted or an effective date for a final rule – typically 30-60 days from when the proposal is published)
- Addresses, including instructions for comment submission (proposed rule only)
- Contact information for the agency
- Supplementary information, which provides a background on the existing rule and an explanation by the agency for the requested change
All entries in the Federal Register’s journal include citations with links to the existing regulation, making it easier for users to understand and research.
Another way to stay abreast of any upcoming changes that may affect the payments industry is by subscribing to email updates and/or various RSS feeds. You can do this by clicking the Subscribe button once you are on an agency’s web page. In addition, you can subscribe to certain keywords, which will then alert you any time a change is proposed and that word is used—for example, “Nacha” or “debit card.” To set up this type of search, type the word in the search bar in the upper right corner of the Federal Register’s website, then click Subscribe once your search yields results.
Once you’ve found a topic of interest that you’d like to comment on, it’s time to draft your comment letter. It is helpful to review the entire Proposed Rule or Notice to understand the background, the agencies will often include specific questions they’d like feedback on. It’s okay if you don’t comment on every single item, only leave feedback on what is important to you. It is helpful to include specifics of how you or your company may be impacted—for example, transaction volume, dollar amounts, number of customers, etc. This detailed information helps to paint a picture for the agencies, which may not be fully aware of the consequences of their proposals.
When your letter is ready, you will find the methods for submission under the Addresses section of the Proposed Rule. Typically, comments may be submitted online, or via email or regular mail. It is important to read the instructions carefully as there is normally a specific docket number associated with the rule that must be referenced or a certain contact person to whom the letter should be addressed. For those who are interested in reading what other individuals or entities had to say about the proposal, there is a link to review that information as well. This can be helpful when seeing how others in your industry are reacting.
Believe it or not—they read them! All agencies using the Federal Register journal are required to read every comment submitted. In fact, several final rules issued by an agency have been significantly changed from the proposed rule based on comments received by the public. This is why it is imperative that you make your voice heard—and to encourage others in your company, industry and community to do the same. To learn more about the Federal Register and the rulemaking process visit its Reader Aids page.
Dwolla has commented on behalf of its clients and their end users on several proposed rules and continues to follow the appropriate agencies closely as they seek to make changes that could significantly impact the payments industry. Recently, the Federal Reserve announced its intent to develop and implement a real-time payment rail called the FedNow Service, which would enable the near-instantaneous transfer of funds, day and night, during weekdays as well as weekends. This service is anticipated to be available within the next five years. The Federal Reserve has issued a notice and request for comment, as well as a list of frequently asked questions on the potential new service. The notice has been published on the Federal Register, and comments are due on November 7, 2019.
We strongly encourage anyone that could be impacted to comment on this proposal, either to let the Federal Reserve know how faster payments could positively affect your business, or to provide suggestions for improvements that could be made. We promise to do the same, and always appreciate any feedback or insight from our clients that we can include in our comments. At Dwolla, we are never done—we will continue to relentlessly advocate for changes that impact the success of our customers, our team and our community. Together, our voices can shape the future of faster payments.