Future U.S. Payment System: Time to Stake Your Claim - October 31, 2013

Senior vice presidents in the Atlanta Fed's retail payments office shared some strategic direction in regard to the U.S. payment system. Cheryl Venable, Julius Weyman, and Brian Egan discussed potential improvements and desired outcomes highlighted in the Fed's "Payment System Improvement Public Consultation Paper." The webcast focused on the Fed's research on how to reduce costs and increase speed and efficiency, as well as the need for public feedback. The VPs then fielded online questions during the October 31 event. The half-hour session was viewed by nearly 100 stakeholders.

End-to-end focus
In assessing strategy, Weyman noted that the Fed has its "eye on the end-to-end process, where it starts and where it stops." He said that improvements in the payment system seek to satisfy the needs of a broad range of users, from technology solution providers to consumers. Egan added that the Fed recognizes that "technology is a driving factor" in this process.

After extensive research, gaps and opportunities in the payment system guided the Fed's strategic plan. "But we didn't want to guess or anticipate what the various stakeholders might need," Weyman said. Public input and feedback to the public consultation paper are welcome and will help determine whether these improvements are relevant.

Electronic payment alternatives for small to midsize businesses
Among the opportunities outlined in the public consultation paper is the need for less costly, easily accessible payment alternatives for small to midsize businesses. Venable noted, "Paper writing still exists because there's not a good, ubiquitous electronic alternative for the paper check." A ubiquitous real-time payment system would address the need to speed the clearing and settling of retail payments.

The future road map
What are the desired outcomes in the next 10 years, and how might the Fed facilitate these? Venable described some suggested improvements to enhance payment speed, continue the migration of paper to electronic, facilitate cross-border payments, and improve payment safety and security.

She also stressed the Fed's goal to "very much collaborate with the payment industry" in order for the United States to have a viable payments model in the future.