Faster Payments: Happening Faster

By Steve Kenneally

The discussion about the migration to faster payments used to feel like people talking about the weather. Everyone complained about it but no one ever did anything. Well, things are changing. It looks like industry is beginning to move as a group and individually. The Federal Reserve’s Faster Payments Task Force met for the first time on June 15-16 to map out a plan to identify the key attributes that a better, faster payments system should have. Collectively, the group of more than 300 banks, credit unions, regulators, consumer groups, merchants, and payment processors, will evaluate the effectiveness of faster payments proposals against that list of key attributes to provide guidance to proponents of new business models on what is driving the industry.

Individual efforts to improve the payment system continue to be made by a number of organizations. P2P payments provider clearXchange announced on June 15 that it had created a real time payment system for consumers and businesses that is available to its six bank members already and can be expanded to new members on a rolling basis. MasterCard announced last month that it will provide near real-time payments via its debit network and PIN-debit network operator Shazam announced that it would expand its real-time P2P payment product beyond its own network to include any DDA account in the United States.

Different parties are taking different routes to faster payments. Will the successful products be those created by individual providers or will they come from consortiums? It is too soon to tell. If we are to take a lesson from Uber and Lyft, the successful payment products will be those that are the easiest for consumers to use. But, new payment services also need to provide a bright line of consumer protection. Clearly, we have moved beyond the talking stage when it comes to faster payments and that is a very good thing.


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