How Instant Payments Are Disrupting the Payments Landscape

POSTED BY Nick Maynard
Instant payments have drastically transformed the payments landscape, not only through speed, but also by shifting expectations by creating unprecedented connectivity among stakeholders in the ecosystem. Such connectivity also translated into intertwined acceleration of digital infrastructure upgrades, as well as business model innovation.

Also known as real-time payments or faster payments, these schemes have evolved extensively from P2P solutions to C2B and B2B spheres over the years; disrupting domains of traditional financial actors.

Instant payments are often defined as electronic retail payment solutions, available 24/7/365, where payments are processed in real-time and are immediately available for recipient’s use. Several other characteristics of instant payment schemes distinguishing them from deferred payments are their irrevocability, immediacy in confirmation to both the transferor and transferee, as well as clearances and settlements using industry-specific standards (ISO 20022, which is a common platform for the development of messages in financial transactions messaging). Most important of all, their ability to create value-added services by constituting an overlay service became especially vital with the rapid growth of eCommerce and, more specifically, API (Application Programming Interface) banking, which is a huge disruptor in the digital banking market.

Instant payments schemes are integral parts of larger innovations in digital finance and standalone services enabling physical and digital movement of goods and services. As such, with the advancement of infrastructures and mobile banking globally, they are likely to create more connectivity and better chances for financial inclusion, especially in the context of small businesses by eliminating the reliance on cash; enabling cheaper transactions and improved security with card payments. That said, development and/or upgrade of legacy payment systems and introduction of related initiatives have been largely uneven across the globe, with merchants driving the trends in numerous countries and regulators in some others. This has created issues, specifically in cross-border payments, which prompted advisory bodies to urge G20 country leaders to committing to a joint public-private sector vision to enhance this area, supported by coordination on ‘regulatory, supervisory and oversight frameworks’ in late 2020. Instant payments schemes present an opportunity for financial actors other than traditional FIs (financial institutions), such as banks, to shape the emerging payments sphere.

Key drivers behind instant payments are an interplay of interrelated factors brought about by digitalisation of the global financial ecosystem. While consumer and business expectations, along with new market entrants, largely shape this sphere, the hidden actors are regulatory bodies which lay the groundwork encouraging all actors for participating in instant payments schemes. These key drivers are: customer and business expectations, technological and new market entrant drivers, and regulatory incentives.

Instant payment schemes will increasingly disrupt both domestic and cross-border channels by offering pay-ments that are faster to process, cheaper to both facilitate and initiate, and easier to track and reconcile. How-ever, instant payments will take time to proliferate, given the fragmented nature of payments regulation within key markets like the US, and the uneven roles regulators have played internationally in payments innovation. 

Our latest whitepaper, Instant Payments ~ Reshaping the Payments Ecosystem, explored the current instant payments landscape, highlighting new trends and opportunities in the market.

Download the Whitepaper:
Related Research: