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Can Faster Payments compete with checks?

Recently, I attended the Federal Reserve task force meeting in Chicago. As a participant in the Federal Reserve’s task forces for Payments and Security, ACI has recently added our UP Immediate Payments solution to the newly opened Faster Payments Capability Showcase. As a result, this meeting offered an opportunity to collaborate with representatives from across the industry to identify ways to partner and bring immediate payments forward in the United States.

As part of these discussions it became only more clear to me that technology companies are, broadly speaking, ready for the rapid change that is going to happen as B2B and C2B / C2C immediate payments take off. But the industry as a whole is far from ready. For example, there is no consensus on the business level rules of engagement. This will require many more working groups coming together to drive consensus. And the Fed is taking a thorough approach at including all types of constituents to ensure many interests are represented.

In the meantime there will be the leaders. The Clearing House, for example, will push forward to get this initiative started. And this will be a very positive driver to move along the industry. We need some first movers with a broad, ubiquitous view, to get the experience of handling this 24/7 environment and realize the use cases customers will find most valuable. 

While the UK, Singapore and other countries provide good learning opportunities, it's not the US. The United States is a unique market in the world with its vast number of financial institutions and continued love affair with checks. The goal of ubiquity similar to check and cash will take creativity in this vast and diverse country.

Yet, once this ball gets rolling, it will inevitably gain speed. That is where it is critical to be ready. In this fast moving environment of technology, you can't be too far behind. Those organizations that are prepared will be best positioned to spot the trends and capitalize on successes. With many competitors entering the space, those that have the flexibility to adjust to market demands will come out the winners. Those that are in a wait and see mode should just make sure they don't get left behind.