Political pressure grows for Fed to build real time payment system

Political pressure grows for Fed to build real time payment system

Democratic senators in the US are pushing a bill that would require the Federal Reserve to develop a real-time payment system as an alternative to the bank-backed Clearing House network.

The Payments Modernization Act has been proposed as a means to force the Fed to take on The Clearing House's Real Time Payments Network (RTP), which is controlled by the nation's biggest banks.

Co-sponsored by Senator Elizabeth Warren and Chris van Hollen, the Bill would “require financial institutions to recognize funds in real time", providing the Fed with a mandate to deliver its own system.

Warren, who has been highly critical of the power exerted by Wall Street's big banks, says: “Our bill would create a national, real-time payments system so that families have faster access to the money they earned and don’t have to pay overdraft fees or rely on a shady payday lender to make ends meet."

The Clearing House has been lobbying the Fed to designate RTP as the US' national real-time network. In April, TCH reached out to community banks and credit unions, opening up four new seats for smaller depository institutions on the RTP Business Committee.

This was accompanied by the release a new set of transparent Business Principles, which stipulate that the network is run as a "utility for the benefit of the industry" and that RTP fees shall continue to be flat for all participants regardless of size, and shall not include volume discounts or minimum volume requirements, among other principles.

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