New Fed Task Forces Aimed At Quicker, Safer Payments

The Federal Reserve is launching a pair of new task forces to get its real-time payments effort moving, more than two years after it began working on the initiative, according to a post on the Fed Payments Improvement blog.

Both task forces are looking for payment-system stakeholders with relevant payment knowledge and experience — and the necessary time to work on some of the thorny issues left unresolved by the Fed’s 18-month faster-payments study, which was published in January.

The Faster Payments Task Force, which requires participants to register by April 17, will “identify and evaluate alternative approaches for implementing safe, ubiquitous, faster payments capabilities in the United States,” according to the announcement.

The Secure Payments Task Force, which has a registration deadline of May 15, will “advise the Federal Reserve on payment security matters, coordinate with the Faster Payments Task Force and determine areas of focus and priorities for future action to advance payment system safety, security and resiliency.”

The Fed is also holding a pair of registration-required teleconferences, on March 20 and March 31, to answer task force-related questions from potential participants.

Part of the goal with the task forces is to cast a wide net for participants, especially in light of the rise in alternative payment approaches, according to Esther George, the Kansas City Fed president and executive sponsor of the task forces.

“Diverse and committed membership will ensure a broad range of perspectives are considered as we pursue improvements to the U.S. payment system,” George said in a press release. “We welcome and actively seek participation from the entire spectrum of payment system participants, including businesses and consumers.”

If the task forces can meet their deadlines for getting members, they have a fighting chance of sticking with the timeline set out in the January study, which calls for identifying effective faster-payments approaches by the end of 2016.

Meanwhile, both NACHA and The Clearing House are working on their own faster payments implementations, and both groups say their work will be in tandem with the Fed’s effort. NACHA’s Same-Day ACH initiative has plans to start rolling out in 2016, while The Clearing House proposed a multi-year effort last October to build a real-time payment system to be used by all U.S. banks.



The pressure on banks to modernize their payments capabilities to support initiatives such as ISO 20022 and instant/real time payments has been exacerbated by the emergence of COVID-19 and the compelling need to quickly scale operations due to the rapid growth of contactless payments, and subsequent increase in digitization. Given this new normal, the need for agility and optimization across the payments processing value chain is imperative.

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