Real-time payments are becoming the new normal, and digital transformation is the next step in revolutionizing banking. A key product in this arsenal is Request to Pay, an instant payment that enables a simple, instant and seamless payments experience for both the payer and receiver, unlocking promising benefits for merchants, banks, acquirers and billers.

Request to Pay is becoming an increasingly popular value-added service for real-time payments, with large rollouts happening in most parts of the world, such as “RTP” in the U.K., “Request 2 Pay” (R2P) in Europe, “Request for Payment” in the U.S. and “Collect” UPI payments in India.

Request to Pay acts like a real-time Direct Debit, but in this case, it allows the payer greater control of their transaction – the ability to check their balance, choose the specific account from which they want to pay, delay a payment, question the amount or opt to pay in part. The benefit for the recipient is the certainty of funds, thanks to a reduction in “bounced” Direct Debits, which has the potential to reduce costs and improve liquidity. As Request to Pay catches on, the frequency with which consumers are confronted with the stress of “surprise” bills should significantly decline.

Convenience and control driving the demand

With all the new payment innovations happening now, what explains the particular interest in Request to Pay? The answer is simple: the combination of convenience and control.

Taking convenience first, when consumers want something, they want it quickly — preferably immediately — and they want to pay for it as simply as possible, preferably using contactless payment and, if possible, without even leaving the couch to dig out their card or account details. But they also want to keep as much control of their money as possible.

Request to Pay provides the convenience of the business simply needing to know your phone number to be able to contact you with the Request to Pay and you authorizing the initiation of the payment.

Request to Pay isn’t just about paying a business. It takes the hassle out of person-to-person transactions, like splitting a restaurant bill or avoiding sending a check as a gift. There’s no, “OK, pay me later,” followed by the awkwardness of reminding friends that they owe you.

Request to Pay brings benefits to businesses

Businesses have to offer customers the best customer experience, and that translates to payment methods. Consumers will transact more with businesses that make it easy to trust the payments experience. Request to Pay offers customers the most familiar and secure method of payment: their own banking application on their phone. Nothing will feel safer to them.

From the point of view of the banks, financial institutions and fintechs, Request to Pay is another race in which they must compete. Of course, they all want to win, but the most important thing is to get into the race in the first place. That means offering their customers a robust, secure Request to Pay platform.

A seamless but secure payment method

There’s been a lot of discussion about how Request to Pay combines seamless payments with inherent security. What makes the concept so safe? Three things.

First, requests can only come through channels with bank-grade security and from billers and merchants who have passed a bank’s background checks.

Second, the request is sent directly to the payer (the consumer, for example), and to respond to the request, they can authorize it via their banking app – again, through a bank-grade security mechanism.

Third, if the payer decides to pay, they simply choose their account and send the payment. Payers don’t provide any payment credentials to the payee – the security strips out sensitive details like account numbers.

And payers don’t need to know the payee’s payment credentials, although these are checked with Request to Pay. The payment moves along the underlying real-time payment rails.

Principal Product Manager, Real-Time & Digital Payments

Somya is an experienced Product Manager whose expertise in the digital payments domain includes immediate payments, cards, point of sale (POS), mobile wallets, mobile banking and QR code-based payment solutions. As Principal Product Manager at ACI Worldwide, Somya leads the solution strategy and go-to-market for various Real-Time and Digital Payment initiatives within ACI.