By : Andy Brown
February 23, 2017 08:00 AM
One of the things customers in many countries expect from their banks today is the ability to complete payments and transfer money in real time, with complete security. Accenture - the world's second-most admired IT services company, according to Fortune magazine - has said real-time payments have the potential to eventually replace cards and checks, and possibly even the automated clearing houses that banks use today.
Many countries have already implemented centralised faster payments systems – such as the UK, and others are still planning their implementations. But as we have seen in the US, if the central banks aren’t quick enough to come up with one joined up system for faster payments, individual financial institutions or other industry players will start working together to do something themselves, to deliver the services their customers demand.
The move towards real-time payments is a sign of things to come in the financial services industry, so it's important to ensure you have the right systems and services in place to meet your customers' needs.
Finding the right solutions
For retail banks, it has become crucial to find ways of handling customer requests in real time, without forgetting the importance of delivering a reliable and secure service. The right technology can prove invaluable when it comes to achieving rapid response times and dealing with the high-volume, low-value transactions made by millions of people every day.
These solutions offer the flexibility to process transactions that originate via various channels, and can be integrated with other internal systems such as online and branch banking.
Faster payments solutions can also deliver significant benefits for central banks and clearing houses who are sitting at the heart of a faster payments system, providing an infrastructure that accepts transactions from member organizations and directs them to the appropriate destination bank.
As far as security is concerned, it's vital to find a fraud detection system that guarantees reliable, real-time protection against threats without impacting on the customer experience. Solutions like NCR's Fractals use processes including machine-learning analytics and risk-based authentication to guarantee a high level of fraud detection and low rates of false positives. The technology offers protection for transactions conducted across any channel, from ATMs and point-of-sale devices to online and mobile.
Why faster payments are so important
The primary reason why banks need to have the necessary infrastructure and services in place to enable faster payments is to keep up with the expectations of their customers. Given the pace at which technology evolves in the digital age, more and more consumers will expect any payments or transactions they make to be processed immediately. Accenture pointed out that this "24/7 availability and immediate access to funds" offers unprecedented convenience for the general public, while businesses can transfer funds and pay their suppliers faster.
Deloitte, one of Accenture's competitors in the professional services sector, has also noted that real-time payments are "changing the reality" of the payments space as we know it. The growth of these technologies is offering greater visibility into payments and facilitating better cash management, which delivers advantages for consumers and businesses. With so many benefits to be gained, it's not inconceivable that real-time payments could one day play a part in replacing cash transactions altogether.
One thing that seems absolutely sure is that, as faster payments become more widely deployed and embraced throughout the global financial system, consumers will increasingly expect maximum speed, convenience and security in their transactions. All the different players involved in payments will have to be ready for these changes, with the most effective and reliable solutions in place to meet customer expectations.