Faster Payments

Big Tech Companies Throw Support Behind Fed Creating Real-Time Payments Network

Amazon, Apple and Google are among the large tech companies that are throwing their support behind the creation of a real-time payments network in the U.S. led by the Federal Reserve.

According to a report in the American Banker citing a letter submitted by a trade group representing Amazon, Apple, Google, PayPal, Square, Stripe and Intuit, they all expressed their support for the Fed being in charge of the development of a system that can connect all the banks and credit unions in the U.S. to speed up payments. “Only the Federal Reserve can serve as the catalyst to achieve real-time payments ubiquity in a timely manner,” the tech companies said in the letter. The letter, noted the report, was in response to a request for comment from the Federal Reserve about what its role should be in driving faster payments. The Fed wants to know if there should be a 24 hour-a-day system for settling payments in real time or if it should leave that to the private sector. The tech giants pointed to the fact that the Fed already plays the central role for checks and wire transfers. The tech companies noted that consumers want real-time payments, driven by the services rolled out by the tech companies. Amazon, in its own comments to the Fed, said the existing credit and debit card payment systems are pricey and that settlement from the Fed would provide an alternative.

The American Banker noted that Walmart and Target and small banks, as well as consumer advocates, back the tech companies’ views, while big banks have taken the opposition opinion. That’s because some of the big banks run their own real-time payment clearing system via The Clearing House and its RTP system. That hasn’t been adopted by smaller financial firms, noted the report. The banks contend that the Fed would be competing with an existing system which would only serve to slow progress. “If the Federal Reserve were to offer a service that was not interoperable, the effect on the faster payments marketplace would be dramatic,” BB&T CEO Kelly King wrote in a comment letter to the Fed, according to the report. King argued that banks would have to use both systems, which would make it expensive and inefficient.

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