The Fed Is Going to Be an RTGS Operator. Now What?

Kim Ford, FPC Executive Director

Now that we have had a moment to catch our breath since the Federal Reserve’s announcement last Monday that it will be developing a real-time clearing and settlement system, it’s time to take stock of the questions we’ve been receiving here at the Faster Payments Council.

First, the FPC’s position on this announcement is clear. We believe that the Federal Reserve’s decision is a strong endorsement of faster payments and puts an even greater emphasis on the need for industry to work together. As the Federal Reserve puts more specifics in place around its operational role for real-time gross settlement, we encourage them to collaborate with the FPC and the broader industry to enable new opportunities, increase access, create greater efficiencies and support choice across the industry.

Many of the questions coming in seem aimed at forcing us to take a side, which I understand, but picking a side is antithetical to the values of inclusiveness and fairness that guide how the FPC operates. Moreover, our FPC membership mirrors the payments ecosystem: we have a wide variety of participants with varying interests and needs, and it is my responsibility as Executive Director to ensure we are incorporating as many of those perspectives as possible as we chart this course to greater adoption.

Let me be clear, the Faster Payments Council is a solution-agnostic organization, and we support work across the industry to advance faster payments.

With that said, those and other questions provide valuable input as we think through the next steps over the coming weeks, so I’d like to share some of the questions and the FPC’s responses.

Q: How does this announcement impact existing faster services?

Use cases for faster payments—from gig worker payments to emergency disbursements to more efficient e-billing and e-invoicing (and beyond) —continue to climb. Many of our members have already brought faster payments solutions to the market or are evaluating potential new solutions to support the various needs for greater speed and efficiency across the industry. With this announcement, the Federal Reserve provides one more avenue for the industry to respond to the rising demand for faster payments from consumers and businesses.

Q: How does the Faster Payments Council plan to work with the Federal Reserve?

The goal of ubiquitous faster payments is an industry-led effort, driven by consumer organizations, business end-users, financial institutions, payment network operators, technology providers, and others. The Fed is one key stakeholder in that mix.

The FPC has the Federal Reserve and other committed industry participants to thank for its creation, and we will continue engaging directly and often with them as an industry stakeholder as we continue to advance toward broader adoption of faster payments.

Q: How does the Federal Reserve’s announcement impact your earlier timeframe of 2020 for ubiquitous faster payments in the U.S.?

2020 was always an aspirational deadline, designed to galvanize the industry to drive the movement toward ubiquitous faster payments. And to that end, it has done just that.

As the faster payments landscape continues to evolve, the FPC’s mission remains steadfast. We will work to ensure Americans can safely and securely pay anyone, anywhere, at any time and with near-immediate funds availability. We’re looking forward to continuing to work with all industry stakeholders to make that vision of faster payments a reality.
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