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Instant Payments, Hurry Up Already!

Celent and I have been involved with Instant Payments since everyone called them Real Time Payments! Our first report dates back to 2014, and that five years feels long from our vantage point now.

Despite early skepticism, the needle is moving exponentially in the direction of a reality that was considered impossible less than a decade ago. Still, not every system is at the same volume and penetration level. While the journey to real time has most definitely begun, each country is moving at a different pace.

In the paper “Instant Payments: Hurry Up Already”, I discuss the evolution of instant payments, and the wide range of challenges and opportunities that banks are facing or will soon face, including: 

  • Previous systems technology limitations and the necessary future improvements
  • How differing levels of capability maturity across nations affects the global instant payments industry
  • The need for banks to look at real-time enablement across their entire infrastructure to truly support the concept of instant payments (“it would be strange to create a digital process to buy a product…in real time…and then wait three days for a batch payment to clear”)
  • The political task of justifying the cost of building a new payments platform without being able to easily forecast the financial payoff

Finally, I suggest a framework for a path forward that highlights how banks can circumnavigate the various challenges—and capitalize on the opportunities—with the right strategic focus, as they move forward with building their instant payments capabilities. 

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