Collaboration Hits a Wall for Real Time Payments

by Sarah Grotta 0

The word that is most often uttered about the efforts underway to develop a roadmap for real time payments in the U.S. is “collaboration”.  In the reports published and webinars conducted by the Federal Reserve’s Faster Payment Task force, representatives from the Fed and private industry extoll the level of partnership and strong working relationships that has been forged to move the real time payments initiative to its current state.  CUNA, as reported in CUNA News, suggests that there is some discord in all of that collaboration:

CUNA joined with other trade associations Thursday to write to Federal Reserve leadership outlining concerns with the Fed’s Secure Payments Task Force. The Task Force was established to provide a forum for stakeholder collaboration and to advise the Federal Reserve on matters related to payments security.

“We are concerned that the efforts of the task force have been marred by an expanding scope, technical misstatements or misunderstandings, and procedural difficulties,” the letter reads, adding that the concerns have led to reduced industry confidence in the materials produced by the task force.

Specifically, the concerns are:

  • Scope has expanded from core payments security issues to peripheral issues, non-security-related issues, and product-specific technologies and the utilization of those technologies outside their intended contexts;

  • Technical misstatements or misunderstandings that were not incorporated into Task Force drafts or were “voted down” in the task force process; and

  • The procedural framework, including the voting process, which is “at best, being applied opaquely.” This had led to some task force members withdrawing from the process.

 Other organizations that joined CUNA in sending a letter to Janet Yellen outlining their concerns included American Bankers Association, Consumer Bankers Association, Electronic Transactions Association, Financial Services Roundtable, and Independent Community Bankers of America.  Collaboration is tough to achieve, especially when the group expected to collaborate includes over 300 individuals from banks, credit unions, processors, fintech, software providers, consultants and other industries.  The concerns will need to be ironed out in order for the initiative to move forward as agreement on a solution from all stakeholders is imperative to creating ubiquity.  The other non-collaborative option is a regulated mandate.

Overview by Sarah Grotta, Director, Debit Advisory Service at Mercator Advisory Group

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