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What are real-time payments for the U.S.?

In short, real-time payments deliver 24x7x365 access, instant funds availability and irrevocable payments.

Already a global phenomenon, the adoption of real-time payments in the U.S. will enable American financial institutions to effectively level the playing field with global competitors while increasing innovation and revenue opportunities.

Do ACI Worldwide solutions support real-time payments for the U.S.?

ACI solutions will support FedNow as it moves towards production. Already, ACI's Low Value Real-Time Payments solution provides connectivity and payment processing for all global real-time payment schemes, including Zelle and TCH RTP. Additionally, ACI High Value Real-Time Payments supports Real-Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) payments, Fed wires, SWIFT messaging, ACH and domestic and regional instant payments.

How is ACI working to drive the adoption of real-time payments in the U.S.?

ACI Worldwide is a member of the U.S. Faster Payments council, contributing global experience in advancing the adoption of real-time payments. “ACI’s commitment to the advancement of Faster Payments in the U.S. goes beyond our business goals,” says Craig Ramsey, head of real-time payments, ACI Worldwide. “As consumer demand for speed, convenience and simplicity with payments increases, the push for real-time payments will continue to accelerate. The launch of multiple real-time payments systems in the U.S. is clear evidence of that. ACI’s goals are aligned with the Faster Payments Council’s as we look to drive the successful implementation, adoption and monetization of real-time payments in the U.S.”

What is TCH real-time payments (RTP)?

The RTP network from The Clearing House is a real-time payments platform that allows financial institutions and processors to clear and settle payments in real-time. TCH is working with providers of core processing and payment services, bankers’ banks, and corporate credit unions to ensure that every financial institution in the U.S. has a way to access the RTP network by 2020. TCH RTP works to deliver efficient real-time payments for bill payment, cash management, P2P transactions, and more.

What specifically is FedNow?

FedNow is the U.S. real-time payments platform being developed by the Federal Reserve Banks. This new interbank 24x7x365 RTGS service features integrated clearing functionality and is intended to enable financial institutions to deliver end-to-end faster payment services to their customers.

What impact will two faster payments systems have in the U.S?

With RTP already up and running, the Federal Reserve Bank’s announcement of its plans to launch a second real-time payments system (FedNow) in the U.S. has generated positive reactions in the industry, with general consensus that this is a positive driver for faster adoption of real-time payments in the market.

Certainly, the addition of a second faster payment system will present opportunities and challenges. Depending on the way the newly announced FedNow system will operate, it could actually reduce fragmentation and further promote ubiquity within the ecosystem. Both parties have acknowledged the possibility of an interoperable service, although the technical complexities have yet to be addressed. Interoperable systems will be necessary to overcome the risk of fragmentation.

When do real-time payments start in the U.S.?

Many financial institutions already offer real-time payments in the U.S. with the TCH RTP network, launched in 2017. FedNow is expected to launch by 2024.

Is Zelle real-time payments?

Zelle offers near-real-time payment services to customers. The experience for the end user feels like real-time, but it does not operate on real-time payments rails. It is a closed network which allows transferred funds to be made available immediately to the end recipient, without interbank real-time clearing or settlement. The Clearing House is partnering with Zelle to offer faster settlement between the banks, evolving from ACH batch to RTP for the settlement of Zelle transactions. Zelle payments can be integrated into a real-time payments hub with ACI Enterprise Payments Platform, allowing for use cases such as real-time disbursements, batch-to-RTP and more.

Who owns real-time payments?

Different real-time schemes are owned or operated in different ways. RTP in the U.S. is owned and operated by The Clearing House and open to all interested participants. TCH is owned by 26 of the world's largest commercial banks. FedNow is owned by The Federal Reserve Banks. Zelle is owned by the Early Warning Services network, which is owned by seven of the US’s largest banks.

Which U.S. banks offer real-time payments?

Several U.S. banks are currently preparing to go live with real-time payments. ACI is already working with Bank of Montreal and Jack Henry & Associates (JHA) to enable their real-time payments services.

Beyond banks, other organizations in the payments ecosystem are also launching real-time payment services with the help of ACI, such as Worldpay, Inc which is leveraging ACI solutions to accelerate the roll-out of Alternative Payment Methods (APMs) to its global merchant network. Many APMs operate on real-time rails.

How many countries currently have active real-time payments schemes?

There are now more than 54 real-time payments schemes and systems live around the world, up from 40 in 2018. This includes both domestic and regional networks.

International payments are also moving towards real-time with the evolution to SWIFT gpi and Universal Confirmations.

Where does ACI support real-time payments?

ACI currently supports 18 real-time domestic schemes around the world, including Zelle and TCH in the U.S., and will support FedNow as it moves toward production.

Globally, ACI provides processing for approximately 50% of the UK’s Faster Payments (UKFP), the core processing infrastructure for Malaysia’s Real-Time Retail Payments Platform (RPP) and STET’s real-time payments platform for PSPs in Europe. Additionally, ACI has customers using UP Real-Time Payments to access Singapore FAST and the Australian NPP (New Payments Platform).

ACI also serves on the U.S. Faster Payments Council, ISO 20022 Real-Time Payments Group and the EPC Instant Payments Technology Group.

Can real-time payments be done in the cloud?

ACI’s real-time payment solutions are available in the public cloud, on premise or as a managed service in our data center. Cloud solutions have now reached the levels of availability and reliability necessary to support real-time payment service levels. In fact, cloud solutions are a great option for U.S. banks looking to enable real-time payments now and ensure the flexibility to grow with increasing transaction volumes as adoption rises.


Discover how ACI’s High Value Real-Time Payments can help you go live with real-time payments in the U.S


Create maximum value in your payments modernization investment by reading our new eBook, "Real-Time Payments Modernization: Leveraging ISO 20022, Universal Confirmations and SWIFT gpi for Payments Innovation."