Faster Payments

Businesses Want Real-Time Payments — What Will It Take To Get There?

Real-time payments: It’s one of those changes that everyone seems to agree on, but could still use some push. That’s the idea behind the recently launched Faster Payments Council (FPC), a group of payment industry participants with the goal of providing a ubiquitous payment system with near-immediate funds availability anywhere.

New PYMNTS research painted a detailed picture of how the market is seemingly ready for such transactions. When it comes to real-time payments, 59 percent of businesses said the capability would improve their cash flow and certainty, according to the PYMNTS Real-Time Payments Innovation Playbook, done in partnership with Mastercard. Furthermore, 70 percent of businesses said they would benefit from real-time payments’ instant funds availability, and 60 percent of companies that are interested in real-time payments are also pursuing B2B innovations.

Meanwhile, members of the Faster Payments Council said the time is ripe for its planned work.

“The industry has clearly signaled that, while our nation’s faster payments system capabilities are rapidly innovating, there’s much to be done to promote ubiquity and faster payments adoption,” said Douglas Berg, senior vice president of payment industry relations for Wells Fargo, in a press release announcing the formation of the latest Faster Payments Council. “We encourage our nation’s payments leaders to lend their voices to the future of faster payments by joining the FPC, and sharing their insights and expertise to further this important work.”

The FPC’s priorities and structure originated with the views of the 27-member Governance Framework Formation Team (GFFT). According to the GFFT, its operating vision for the FPC is the result of more than 1,000 comments from industry players across the payments ecosystem.

Specifically, the FPC will focus on the roadblocks to faster payments adoption. Paper is one roadblock, as paper checks are still used by about half of the companies analyzed in the new PYMNTS report.

So, what motivates companies to keep sending and receiving paper checks? Fraud anxieties, for one — 20 percent of the companies in the report said they dislike using checks for that reason. In addition, 18 percent of companies said checks are too expensive.

Those factors are part of the move toward more real-time payments, and B2B transactions. According to the study, one-third of businesses plan to adopt real-time payments technology in the next three years. For those operations that the report judged as “innovation leaders,” the prospect of real-time payments has found an even warmer welcome, with 60 percent of the most innovative companies saying they would adopt the technology in the next three years.

The move toward more adoption of real-time payments will require education. As the new report noted, real-time payments suffers from a general lack of knowledge about what the technology is and how it can improve business. More than half of all businesses surveyed said they did not know enough about real-time payments to consider it as a viable B2B option, making the simple lack of education the greatest inhibitor to its adoption. The PYMNTS report found that 51 percent of companies are deterred from real-time payments because they do not understand it.

The FPC was designed, in part, as a response to that lack of knowledge. According to the group, its focus on private sector approaches to real-time payments will provide an educational awareness program to promote understanding of the concept and its benefits, along with an open and collaborative process that includes the discussion of issues relevant to the space.

The space is growing. While only 25 real-time payment systems were operational worldwide last year, 40 such rails were live this September, and 67 percent of consumer payments are now made electronically, according to the PYMNTS report.

The U.K.’s Faster Payments Service has been operational for about a decade, and such technology has been live in the U.S. since 2016. Europe and Asia are also experiencing growth in the technology. The PYMNTS report — along with the creation of the Faster Payments Council — shows that real-time payments has significant steam behind it, as appetite for the technology grows.



The PYMNTS Cross-Border Merchant Friction Index analyzes the key friction points experienced by consumers browsing, shopping and paying for purchases on international eCommerce sites. PYMNTS examined the checkout processes of 266 B2B and B2C eCommerce sites across 12 industries and operating from locations across Europe and the United States to provide a comprehensive overview of their checkout offerings.