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EBAday 2020: It’s do-or-die time for real-time payments

EBAday 2020: It’s do-or-die time for real-time payments

Launching into the session ‘Reaping the potential of real-time payments’, Dean Wallace, director of real-time payments, digital and request to pay, ACI Worldwide argues that the expectations of the market will only continue to evolve, pressuring financial institutions to finalise their real-time payments (RTP) strategy.

Wallace elaborates: “We’ve certainly seen a lot of demand in the early days of the launch of real-time payments across Europe and PSD2. Those who have already adopted real-time with propositions in the market are at a great advantage as they are able to test, learn and build better products.”

“Clear competition from big tech such as Google means it’s almost do-or-die time for the banks in this real time digital space.”

Echoing Wallace’s sentiments, Michael Steinbach, CEO, equensWorldline, believes that there is a developing view held by banks that instant payments really must be the new normal across the globe.

He adds that RTP clearly drives commoditisation of financial payments processing: “it’s the end-game scenario where in the end we will have a completely instant world led by a technical standard based on ISO 20022. This is the view we need to take around implementing instant payments and the Netherlands provides a clear example of what is possible with instant payments.”

Adding to the argument that time is certainly of the essence, Claus Richter, deputy CEO & COO, P27 posits that even though regions across the globe are very much at different stages of their RTP journey, the question for those who are trailing should be “what is the opportunity cost”?

That is, what are banks, corporates and consumers currently missing out on by being slow to adopt RTP effectively? Richter suggests that based on this consideration we will see the pace of evolution toward RTP pick up significantly in the coming years.

Moderator Kevin Brown, independent non-executive director and advisor, Payment Industry Insights follows on with an audience-submitted question that targets the true value behind RTP: What is more important, real-time processing or the availability of fund 24x7?
“You really have to have both,” states Connie Theien, senior vice president and director, payments industry relations, Federal Reserve System.

“To the end users, it is the availability of funds and certainty which make the value proposition itself. Over time (at least in the US), when we are inevitably settling tens of billions of payments with finality and irrevocability, we will simply need to have 24x7 clearing and settlement on the back end. Without it the risk to the system would become untenable”

“This risk was a key driver for the Federal Reserve deciding to design and build a real time infrastructure.”

In addition to the FedNow Instant Payment Service, Theien explains that the Reserve is also going to make a liquidity tool available to transfer liquidity when Fedwire is closed over weekends and evenings to ensure the backend capabilities support the instant payment system itself.

Rounding out the discussion with certain challenges being faced by the “multiple flavours” of RTP systems across the globe, Wallace also addresses the question of liquidity with particular reference to cross-border instant payments. He notes that given interoperability and reachability are arguably in place across Europe, the rest of the world can look to Europe as what is being done across the 27 Union nations is an exportable model.

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