This time of year, New Year’s resolutions are top-of-mind for just about everybody – and that includes banks and financial institutions (FIs).
As consumers in the U.S. and around the world go about setting New Year's goals, FIs are focused on getting their faster payments systems up and running. One such bank is SunTrust, which finished out 2017 by becoming one of the early adopters of The Clearing House’s (TCH) real-time payments (RTP) technology and announcing a new integration with faster payments network Zelle.
In a recent interview with PYMNTS, Dan Massey, the company’s chief technology officer, explained how SunTrust Bank aims to boost its client experience by offering fast payment capabilities and new services – such as the ability to split payments – among other features.
Massey said the bank’s faster and real-time payments initiatives will guide much of his team’s work in the New Year.
“Our purpose is really to help light the way to financial well-being and financial confidence for our clients, and we consider faster payments to be a really important part of that,” he said. “It’s about making sure they can move their money and manage their money faster, more conveniently and with more confidence in the security of those transactions.”
Ending 2017 on a Faster Note
Massey noted that SunTrust is an owner and member of TCH, a nationwide collective of banks and FIs that have worked to make facilitating exchanges, setting monetary policy and issuing currency a collaborative effort.
TCH has been working to implement the first new payments system in the U.S. in more than four decades, and recently celebrated perhaps the last major milestone of that effort when the first transaction was completed via RTP by BNY Mellon and U.S. Bank in November. SunTrust was one of four other banks – on a list that included JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup and PNC Financial Services Group – to become early adopters of the technology.
The company’s adoption of same-day ACH technology was the “culmination of a three-year-long effort” to make faster payments capabilities a reality, Massey said. The first transactions marked an important step – not just for SunTrust, but for the U.S. financial system, too.
The new payment and clearing system means the U.S. has a better chance of staying on par with other markets. Until now, it had often failed to keep pace with nations like the U.K., which has had its real-time payments infrastructure up and running for nearly a decade.
The More (Networks), the Merrier
After bringing TCH’s RTP system live to its customers, SunTrust Bank wrapped up 2017 by partnering with Zelle. The partnership, which launched in December, gives SunTrust customers the ability to make transfers and split payments using its mobile or online banking solutions.
Massey noted the company’s decision to support faster payment transfers via both TCH and Zelle was the result of efforts to meet customers’ demand for a range of faster payment options. He pointed to several other banks and FIs that have also partnered with Zelle, allowing SunTrust clients to use the network to send money to more recipients.
“We watched trends in client behavior and listened to their feedback surrounding other offerings, and we knew that clients wanted to be able to use this more often, and on their mobile device[s],” Massey explained. “Partnering with Zelle allowed us to have that broader network of banks that our clients could make transfers with, and allowed us to invest in a mobile solution.”
Finding a Faster Future in 2018
With faster payments offerings now in place, SunTrust is setting its sights on increasing the volume of customers utilizing the technology, and the number of features and use cases for which it can be employed. To that end, the company is planning several faster payments initiatives in the early months of this new year, Massey said. Those include changing certain aspects of existing offerings, adjusting transfer limits and dealing with new usage patterns or cybercrime threats.
“As we get more experienced, these are things that are going to continue to evolve and we’re going to continue to learn more,” he noted. “All those things are going to take on different changes and perspectives as we move money in real time.”
But, Massey said, the biggest changes in faster payments in the New Year will come simply from more users adopting the technology.
“We would love to see more ubiquity, more interoperability across banks and different networks and more consumers becoming users of these solutions,” he explained. “And, as we get more people using this technology and more experience with it across the industry, we can develop more applications for these faster payments networks. I think even though it’s still the early days, we’re headed in the right direction.”
It seems faster payments progress may just be one New Year’s resolution on which FIs will actually follow through.