Real-Time Payments Put Spotlight on Small Businesses as New Year Begins

As the new year begins, the global demand for faster, streamlined transactions continues to fuel the expansion of real-time payments worldwide. Countries are employing diverse approaches to developing, deploying and refining their instant payment systems to meet consumer needs.289%: Projected growth in real-time transaction processing through 2030

Some nations, led by central banks and government regulators, have established government-driven instant transaction protocols. Others assign the task of developing payment infrastructures to independent firms.

Real-Time Payments in Mexico

Mexico, for instance, is letting the free market take the lead. ACI Worldwide recently partnered with FinTech Mexipay to deploy ISO 20022-compliant real-time payments and other services in Mexico. The entities expect the system to go live later this year. Fabian Uribe, co-founder and CEO of Mexipay, noted that the collaboration focuses on small and medium banks and merchants, a historically underserved segment regarding real-time transactions.

79: Number of countries with at least one real-time payments scheme in operation

Innovation in the U.S.

The United States is also taking a private sector-first approach to these faster payments. A new player entered the scene in late 2023 when payments-as-a-service (PaaS) platform Melio launched a real-time payments option for small businesses. Historically, real-time rails are less common among these businesses, much like their counterparts in Mexico. Currently, real-time rails support 60% to 70% of business-to-business (B2B) transactions, but large businesses dominate this share. The launch of government-backed FedNow is expected to further bolster the real-time transaction capabilities for small to mid-sized businesses (SMBs).

Colombian Real-Time Payments Evolution

46%: India’s share of global real-time paymentsColombia, meanwhile, is forging ahead with a government-led approach to real-time payments. The country’s central bank, Banco de la República, recently introduced a new regulatory foundation for its first Single Payment Interface, mandating that payment companies can interface with each other rather than use proprietary protocols. This step is the first toward a nationwide real-time ecosystem, which will likely follow in the footsteps of Brazil’s highly successful Pix network.

These diverse approaches to real-time payment infrastructures are emblematic of the many systems deployed worldwide. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to instant payments everywhere, a lesson many countries have already learned and one that even more will discover as they roll out payment systems in 2024.

The “Real-Time Payments World Map,” a collaboration with The Clearing House, examines the state of real-time payments in countries around the world and how they compare to their counterparts.