The real-time payments movement continues to build momentum in the United States with FIS Inc.’s announcement Wednesday of RealNet, a cloud-based, software-as-a-service platform that enables businesses, consumers, and governments to initiate account-to-account transactions. RealNet, which FIS describes as a network of networks, will leverage The Clearing House Payment Co. LLC’s real-time payment network, in addition to the automated clearing house’s same-day network, to speed up the processing, clearing, and settlement of payments.
To determine which network to route the transaction over, FIS has built a decision engine to identify the fastest, most cost-efficient option for a given transaction.
By including connectivity to the ACH, RealNet will be able to facilitate transactions for all deposit accounts in the United States, not just accounts connected to The Clearing House’s RTP network. TCH’s network can reach 70% of deposit accounts in the U.S.
“With RealNet, we are aggregating all the pieces [of real-time payments] in the U.S.,” says Ginny Chappell, senior vice president and general manager, global real time payments, U.S. market, for FIS. “The RTP network is not able to reach all deposit accounts now. Merchants and businesses also require [separate] connections to each of the networks in the RealNet platform. RealNet provides a single point of integration to all these networks.”
In particular, FIS sees RealNet as a vehicle to capture more business-to-business payments, such as accounts receivable and payable payments, as well as cross-border payments. “B2B is a big opportunity for real-time payments,” says Chappell, who adds businesses will also see opportunities to leverage real-time payments for business-to-consumer payments, such as refunds.
Besides businesses, consumers will be able use the platform to initiate account-to-account payments, such as transfers of large sums of money from a brokerage account into a bank account for a home purchase.
“Account-to-account payments give consumers more control over the movement of their money, make more sense from a cost perspective than a wire transfer, and are faster than ACH transactions,” Chappell says. FIS plans to expand RealNet, which will utilize application programming interfaces to integrate with other FIS core banking and payments solutions, to foreign markets. “We view this as a global platform and feel that real-time payments are the future of money, which is why we are investing so heavily in them,” says Chappell. “This is just the beginning.”