For All the Progress, Challenging Work Still Ahead for Faster Payments


Reed Luhtanen, Executive Director

As each year comes to a close, it is customary to look back and take stock of accomplishments. 2020 is no different, despite the challenging year we’ve all faced due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. But even with the challenges, which for many of us ushered in new ways of doing business, we were able to persevere, forge ahead and move the needle on faster payments.

The results of the 2020 Faster Payments Barometer, the FPC’s second annual study on our progress towards ubiquitous faster payments in the United States, clearly demonstrated our advancement. Often –particularly during times of uncertainty and hardship—progress can be difficult and hard to measure. But the Barometer results provide tangible evidence of our accomplishments: more people believe we are making steady progress towards faster payments, more people are using and enabling faster payments, and more people plan to implement faster payments in the near future. In addition, nearly four out of five indicated they are maintaining or accelerating their faster payments plans—concrete evidence of our relentless pursuit of our goal.

These results demonstrate two things to me: 1. The work the FPC continues to do is significant and meaningful, and 2. Our work is far from over. 

Over the course of 2020, the FPC and its Work Groups have undertaken many important projects to advance our mission. The efforts of the Network Committee and Directory Models Work Group on interoperability provided the foundation for dialogue on possible future states. The Fraud Information Sharing Work Group supported initiatives to increase faster payments adoption by identifying fraud themes and trends and ways to mitigate them. And the QR Code Work Group has explored ways to make faster payments easier to use through QR codes. 

And while all of these efforts have played a role in helping to advance faster payments, more difficult work awaits. The pandemic has highlighted the need for our payments system to be flexible to support remote transactions, and speed is a critical aspect of that. These needs won’t change once the pandemic is over, and as such, they shine a light not only on the requirement for ubiquitous connectivity among bank accounts, but more broadly, for everyone to have access to the functionality. The ability to transact digitally and with expediency has now become the de-facto means to fully participate in our economy. 

All this means that the challenge of interoperability will become an even more important topic to address in 2021. Finding ways to increase access to systems will also be critical to furthering our efforts. And useability, enhancing current systems and products and developing new ones that are more user-friendly, will be paramount to growing adoption, a key component to realizing our goal of ubiquitous faster payments for all. 

These are the arduous tasks that lie before us. While we saw progress and success in 2020, the work in 2021 won’t be easy. But the FPC is up for the challenge. Much of the foundation has been set, thanks to the work of Members and the larger industry. And plans are underway for new Work Groups and initiatives to further efforts around useability and access, and adoption. What’s left now is to roll up our sleeves and continue the work we started. 
 
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