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Real-Time in Real Life: The State of Real-Time Payments in the U.S.

A wave of digital change affecting both real-time payments and consumer behavior has swept across the world since the onset of the pandemic, but this wave was well underway before COVID-19 hit. In a continuation of our Real-Time in Real Life series, I spoke with Liz Oakes, executive vice president, Mastercard Send, to explore the state of real time in the U.S., and how the changes we have seen over the past few years are here to stay.

A global digital transformation

While the pandemic had a hand in accelerating the digital transformation we have seen across all channels, it is by no means solely responsible. There was a push and motivation for businesses to modernize their payment processes and services in response to consumer demand for payments convenience, speed and choice. This was bolstered by government initiatives aimed at driving financial inclusion. Segments that were previously card- or cash-based have seen huge growth and are now participating in digital payments. And some emerging economies in Asia as well as India, for example, have seen remarkable digital growth.

In the U.S., eWallets, in particular, have been popularized in recent years compared to the rest of the world, which has primarily prioritized mobile banking.

“Consumers are not interested in who is running the service, they just want to make sure it works and is cheap and reliable,” says Oakes. As account-to-account transactions become the new standard, banks and merchants will need to work on making these transactions a true real-time experience, since U.S. consumers are more accustomed to how eWallets function.

Educating slow adopters

Education of slow adopters will be key in getting consumers to use new digital methods. Younger generations will figure it out, or watch a YouTube video to learn. Trying to persuade older generations will likely be more difficult. A lack of trust, fear of fraud and general lack of knowledge of ”how it all works” hinders adoption of new practices. Businesses will need to address these issues and make it easier for slow adopters to embrace what will become the new standard in payments.

Choice is key

Consumers are always looking for choice. They want to be able to send money from one place to the next seamlessly. This is the ultimate question that banks will have to solve for their customers: how can they provide the choices their customers are expecting?

Craig Ramsey, Head of Real-Time Payments, ACI Worldwide, sits down with Liz Oakes, Executive Vice President, Mastercard, to discuss the nature of real-time payments at Mastercard.

Watch the full conversation with Liz Oakes, Mastercard, on the adoption of real-time payments.

For more information on real-time payments, view our industry guide exploring the key questions and challenges banks, merchants and billers must consider when it comes to all things real-time. 

About Mastercard Send: Mastercard Send™ is a payments platform that enables people and organizations to send and receive money in real-time, domestically and cross-border. It is designed to help banks, businesses and digital players modernize the way they send payments, to give people access to funds with speed, choice and security. It can support multiple kinds of disbursements and is an integral part of Mastercard’s mission to connect and power an inclusive, digital economy that benefits everyone, everywhere by making transactions safe, simple, smart and accessible.

Head of Real-Time Payments, Product Management

Craig has over 25 years' experience working with banks throughout EMEA with their corporate payments and banking needs. He has been with ACI for over 12 of those years, providing specialist consulting to wholesale banking customers. Through the initiatives of the Euro, SWIFTNet, CLS, TARGET, TARGET2, SEPA, and UK Faster Payments (amongst others), Craig has helped customers leverage the power of the ACI solutions to ensure that the business needs are met. Craig is currently Head of Real-Time Payments, Product Management. Working with customers, prospects and industry players alike, he helps to ensure that ACI's products are industry-leading and are always ready to help our customers.    

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