Technology Marches Forward

March 29, 2018

Changes are under way at the Retail Payments Office as it works with a broad spectrum of participants to enhance the speed, safety, and efficiency of the payments system.

For example, the Retail Payments Office has worked with the industry to enable same-day payments and settlements through the ACH network. Implemented in three phases, with completion in March 2018, Same-Day ACH is speeding up the processing and settlement of a number of bank-based transactions, including debit and direct deposit payments. The Retail Payments Office began working with the industry in the early 2000s to speed settlement of ACH transactions by testing the capabilities in 2003, introducing an opt-in service in 2010, and ultimately influencing and supporting the industry's full adoption of Same-Day ACH in 2017. It represents the most significant change to the ACH network in more than 40 years.

Additionally, the Retail Payments Office is in the midst of a multi-year effort to modernize the Fed's ACH processing platform. This upgrade will help the Fed better manage costs and improve its ability to adapt to changing customer demands for FedACH service offerings.

The Atlanta Fed is also focusing on the implications of technological innovations for businesses and consumers. The Atlanta Fed launched the Retail Payments Risk Forum to bring together experts to consider how changes in electronic security, law enforcement, banking, and other issues could affect the payments landscape.

Finally, the Retail Payments Office has worked closely with others across the Federal Reserve System and the industry to explore the opportunity for implementing faster payments in the United States, a trend that has already gained popularity worldwide. In 2015, the Fed convened a task force of more than 300 people from various corners of the payment sector to discuss systems that can allow real-time electronic fund transfers between bank accounts. The Faster Payments Task Force published its final report in July 2017, outlining several recommendations to achieve its objective of making faster payments available to U.S. consumers and businesses by 2020.

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