Payments Are Moving To Real-Time Around The World, The U.S. Plays Catch-Up

Payment systems are moving to real-time around the globe, according to a the fifth annual “Flavors of Fast” report from FIS, the financial technology powerhouse. The annual report was begun by Clear2Pay, which FIS acquired in 2014.

FIS found 40 active real-time payment programs around the world, up from 25 in 2017 and nearly three times as many as the company’s inaugural 2014 study. In addition it identified five payments programs under development, plus another 16 expected to be live in the next 12-18 months.

The report rated the faster payments systems around the world, rating India 5, the highest rating, Australia 4+ and Singapore 4+. Somewhat improbably, the United States got a 4 rating even though its system isn’t operational at scale. It launched some small segments at the end of last year but lags well behind other countries, including the UK which celebrated the 10th anniversary of its faster payments system this year.

“We rated the countries at a point in time,” explained Elena Whisler, head of global product management, open payments at FIS, “meaning that we rated the country as is regardless if they were just launched. The main reasons US is currently a 4 is because it hasn’t got ubiquity yet,” she added in a bit of understatement.

The main reason for slower adoption in the U.S. is the lack of a mandate, said Whisler. The Fed when it started work on faster payments, focused on what faster payments would need but it did not require financial institutions to participate. TCH and other closed networks have stepped up to provide infrastructure, she added.

“Now banks have the question, when something isn’t mandated and doesn’t go through a compliance budget cycle, banks need a business case, which is difficult to do with real-time payments. It’s difficult to have a business case when we don’t know where value will come from.”

At a Federal Reserve meeting on faster payments in Chicago last week, the Federal Reserve Board invited public comment on actions the Federal could take to support faster payments in the United States.

In its official announcement, the Fed said:

About Tom Groenfeldt

I write - mostly about finance and technology, sometimes about art, occasionally about politics and the intersection of politics and economics. My work appears on Forbes.com and International Finance Magazine. The Financial Brand ranked me 20 on a list of the top 25 global influencers in financial services and Jay Palter included me in his list of 250 fintech influencers to follow in 2016 http://bit.ly/1SSRXC6
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