Real-time Real Talk: A Real-time Payments Download (1 of 3)

Real-time Real Talk: A Real-time Payments Download (1 of 3)

2023 is promising to be an exciting year for payments, maybe. In the US, we should be getting our first new bank payment rail since the 1970s (the last one was regular ‘ole ACH in 1978, not counting Same Day ACH which rolled out in 2010).[^1] In 2022, the Federal Reserve Banks (“The Fed”) announced the long anticipated launch of FedNow, their real-time payments system. Launch is set for mid-2023, eight years since the Fed started talking about it in 2015.[^2] Technical testing has kicked off with more than 110 organizations participating in the FedNow Pilot Program. What does this mean for the rollout of real-time payments in the US? For me, not much.

I want to be clear, I would love to see a world of ubiquitous real-time payments in the US. However, I am a skeptic - the proverbial dove to the Fed’s hawkish real-time rollout plans. Perhaps my negativity stems from a hedge, an attempt to set the bar low to avoid the disappointment of a US payments system still woefully behind and trapped in incentive structures.


Regardless, let’s celebrate progress. In honor of the 2023 launch of FedNow, I am rolling out a three-part series on real-time payments in the US. This series includes:

  • Part I: State of Play - Level setting on what real-time options exist and how they developed. We will compare RTP and FedNow head-to-head and discuss why real-time payments are cool.
  • Part II: The Why and How - Why real-time matters and how to connect.
  • Part III: Unblocking and Unlocking - What needs to be true for FedNow adoption and the exciting possibilities ahead.

Let’s dive in.