The United States has yet to realize real–time, ubiquitous, end–to–end electronic payments that embrace the full capability of today’s information technology and telecommunications network connectivity. Achieving ubiquity of faster, secure payments has been challenging because infrastructure needed for completing an end–to–end payment—from initiation to settlement and reconciliation—in real time is substantial. In addition, market competition and brand differentiation can stand in the way of developing this infrastructure.
A number of countries have addressed these challenges through a mandate and/or the development of a national faster payments system with a single operator. In contrast, the task force believes that competition among individual solution operators and service providers that are guided by their efforts to fully meet the Effectiveness Criteria should be the driving force in determining the ultimate contours of faster payments capabilities in the United States. In addition, achieving ubiquity will depend on pro–competitive collaboration across current and future solution operators, including those that did and did not participate in the task force proposal process.
At this juncture, the U.S. payment system continues to evolve at a rapid pace. Innovations in the card space now facilitate real–time P2P transfers via credit push. Many fintech and social media entities are delivering payment services with some real–time attributes through stored value or card–on–file models, and the payments industry is exploring models that leverage digital currency and distributed ledger technologies. In addition, each of the proposed solutions is at a different stage of readiness to enter the market and will face competition from these other solutions. Merely having an array of options with certain faster payments characteristics, however, does not necessarily mean that the vision for a faster payments system will be achieved.
The task force believes that achieving the desired faster payments system means fostering competition in a way that enables innovative solutions to enter the market and encourages all solutions to fully incorporate the Effectiveness Criteria. This, in turn, requires that four primary cross–solution foundational issues are addressed in a collaborative way.