As May flowers bloom, millions of Americans are still awaiting pandemic relief monies from the government. Some got it via direct deposit. Others believe there’s a paper check coming but find no details on the IRS “Get My Payment” web portal set up to track the progress of funds.
People want answers. Here’s one that provides clarity on the matter: “As the U.S. government continues to distribute economic impact payments to American citizens via ACH and paper checks over the course of weeks and months, it has become increasingly clear that their legacy payment infrastructure is ripe for innovation,” Ingo Money CEO Drew Edwards told PYMNTS. “[The government] is not a payments company and was not set up to [instantly] distribute a large chunk of $2 trillion to hundreds of millions of consumers and SMBs.”
In PYMNTS’ May 2020 Disbursements Tracker® done in collaboration with Ingo Money, an assortment of methods are assessed for their value in getting CARES Act payouts to people and businesses faster, at a decisive moment for the United States and its legendary economy.
Betting on Faster Payments
The latest Disbursements Tracker® looks at the pandemic disbursements debacle through the lens of the casino gaming industry. The payment of gambling winnings offers insights into how inventive money movement can alleviate problems for cash-strapped Americans right now.
“Online casinos worldwide already make digital disbursements by relying on third parties that have been processing payments for decades,” according to the May Tracker. “Credit and debit transfers have been especially popular in Europe for sending funds to winners, for example. Online betting services in the region are now even exploring depositing such sums directly into digital wallet applications on users’ mobile devices.”
Some of the other faster payments approaches detailed in the new report include proposed new legislation for loading Small Business Administration (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds directly to mobile wallets.
Introduced in March by House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), the bill known as H.R. 6321 “… proposes that U.S. Federal Reserve-accredited banks give their customers access to these digital wallets so relief payments can be sent more easily.
The bill encourages digital currencies use, meaning that the funds could be disbursed using a central bank-backed digital currency,” the report states, adding, “It is unlikely that the Fed may embrace a digital currency during the pandemic, yet the idea of disbursing funds to digital wallets is more palatable.”
Other financial institutions and financial services giants including Visa and Mastercard have also offered disbursement solutions for aid money. The latter manages Direct Express, the Fed’s electronic payment system under which Comerica Bank “acts as the Treasury Department’s financial agent for prepaid debit cards,” according to PYMNTS reporting. The Visa Direct push payments service is likewise an option to disburse PPP funds and other financial relief.
Real-time payments providers have lined up around virtually the block just for a shot at disbursing any piece of the ongoing multi-trillion-dollar stimulus package. What’s clear in the May 2020 Disbursements Tracker® is that from compliance to security, it’s a job for the experts.
“Our disbursements marketplace goes beyond ACH and checks for both banked and unbanked consumers, connecting all of the relevant rails [and] delivering more options and real-time funds access to accounts of the recipients’ choosing — to pretty much anything in the consumers’ wallets, including existing bank, prepaid [or] mobile wallet accounts or ... cash from retail locations,” Ingo Money’s Edwards told PYMNTS.
That’s the kind of flexibility payees require now, although much remains unclear in early May.
“Solving these problems requires innovating government payments from the ground up to incorporate more instant disbursement options that can help businesses and consumers struggling to stay afloat,” the report states. “Government agencies must therefore begin thinking more about their payment infrastructure in the aftermath of the pandemic.”