NEW REPORT: H&R Block On Offering Smarter, Faster Tax Refunds

The rise of new technology has dramatically altered the traditional nature of payments, allowing gig workers and full-time workers faster access to their earnings while enabling businesses and banks to move funds more quickly across international borders.

And as this technology has become more commonplace in financial services, the old ways of payments – like waiting until a scheduled payday to receive earnings – are becoming less and less common. In their place has risen a new system of exchanging funds that have made payments faster, more efficient, more secure and, above all, smarter.

These smarter payment tools are being put to use in a wide range of use cases across various sectors. In the rideshare market, for example, Uber and Lyft are allowing drivers to get paid more quickly, and with greater flexibility, than waiting for payday to roll around. Meanwhile, freelance marketplaces like Fiverr and GigSalad allow service providers to get paid quickly through PayPal.

Other players in the sharing economy are also introducing new tools to improve how payments are paid and split. Home share service Airbnb, for starters, recently introduced a new tool that enables travelers to more easily split a group bill. Meanwhile, others players in the space, like Venmo and Zelle, enable users to quickly send and receive money with a few taps on a smartphone.

The debut of these solutions has already dramatically changed the nature of payments, making them considerably smarter than those of days gone by. Today’s smarter payments are delivered much faster – within hours or even just a few seconds – and include data to inform both payers and payees. They often use APIs, include heightened security measures, are flexible and capable of finding the most appropriate payment rails, and use models that maximize the payment value.

Introducing the new Smarter Payments Tracker, a report following the latest developments reshaping and improving the payment experience. This bimonthly report will monitor the ongoing developments and discussions that highlight how the payments experience is continuing to evolve. Each edition of the Tracker will highlight the innovations and players that are raising the payment bar to develop more intelligent payment systems and processes.

Around the Smarter Payments World

The inaugural edition of the Tracker focuses on the need for payments speed. Recently, several companies have looked to put payments in the fast lane.

Cambridge Global Payments, for one, recently announced a collaboration with software company Qwil. The joint effort is designed to explore opportunities to help gig workers get paid more quickly and efficiently, allowing them to receive payments within two to three business days. Recent data from PYMNTS shows 84 percent of surveyed gig workers would do more work if they were paid faster.

In addition to gig workers, construction workers and contractors are also seemingly benefitting from faster payment solutions. Mobile payment solution provider BankLabs, for example, recently launched its +Pay solution that integrates with its loan automation product, Construct. By offering the integration, BankLabs is aiming to help construction professionals, contractors and subcontractors get paid faster.

Blockchain is also being viewed as a potential solution for introducing smarter payment capabilities, with several companies filing patents for their own solutions. Digital payment provider PayPal recently filed a patent for its blockchain-based process, in which private keys are traded from buyers to sellers, cutting down the time it takes to exchange payments. Similarly, American Express recently filed its own patent for a blockchain solution that can receive payment requests and offer a risk-based analysis.

Deep Dive: Global Faster Payment Systems

The Smarter Payments Tracker will also include a deep dive into how global players are working to enhance payment systems.

In the inaugural Tracker, PYMNTS examines the rise of faster payment systems emerging in several global markets like the U.S., the U.K., Australia and the European Union. These systems are designed to enable millions of users to deliver payments and collect data and insights on payments to improve long-term functionality – but they are also facing challenges, such as interoperability between different global payment systems.

How Smarter Payments are Enabling Instant Tax Refunds

Approximately 15 million tax filers begin the process of getting a refund in January. But while the early bird gets the worm, early tax filers are forced to wait months to gain access to their tax refunds.

In an effort to make the wait less taxing, tax prep services like H&R Block are getting creative by offering qualified customers instant refund advance loans. These services, according to Jim Koger, H&R Block’s vice president of corporate operations, allow the company to stand apart from the competition and help customers get earlier access to their funds, thereby remaining on steady financial footing.

Download the Tracker to read the feature story, the deep dive, the news and the rest of the inaugural edition.

About the Tracker™ 

The Smarter Payments Tracker™, powered by FIS, is a bimonthly report that looks at how payment systems are evolving to be faster and transmit data, while offering interoperability between systems and more to improve the payer and payee experience.