Thursday , December 13, 2018

The Fed Unveils an Industry Group Charged With Developing Faster Payments

Following through on plans disclosed earlier this year, the Federal Reserve on Tuesday formally unveiled the U.S. Faster Payments Council, an industry group charged with collaborating to spur the adoption of faster payments and identify market opportunities.

The 22 inaugural members range from retailing giant Walmart Inc. to Visa Inc. and Mastercard Inc. to some big banks, tech companies, processors, and automated clearing house governing body NACHA. The faster payments effort aims to clear and settle payments in near real time.

The council, an outgrowth of the Fed’s multiyear Payment System Improvement project and the successor to that project’s Governance Framework Formation Team, will focus on private-sector approaches “to solving problems and addressing issues that inhibit adoption of faster payments,” the Fed said in a news release.

The group’s first major tasks include a membership drive and recruitment of an executive to lead it.

Duties for the next two years include support for adoption of practices that enhance payment safety; development of an education and awareness program about faster payments, and “identifying, developing, and supporting principles, guidelines, and market practices that will address opportunities and emerging issues in an open and collaborative way,” the Fed said. Council decisions will not be binding on members, according to the Fed.

The group is open to any payments-industry company or organization that pays a revenue-based annual fee. Nine fee tiers for voting members range from $500 for firms with less than $5 million in annual revenue to $90,000 for those with revenues above $20 billion. So-called founding sponsors pay anywhere from $25,000 to $162,000, which includes up to five years of prepaid dues if they pay by Feb. 28, 2019. The annual fee for non-voting associate members is $250.

“We want to have an inclusive approach that brings everybody that has an interest in this space together,” Reed Luhtanen, Walmart’s senior director of payments strategy, said in previewing the council at a Fed conference last month in Chicago.

The council’s board of directors will have up to 21 voting members, with three seats each for financial institutions, payment networks, tech providers, business end users, and consumer groups. Three seats will be reserved for other organizations, and there will be three at-large seats.

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