Real-time payments are here to stay

Sam Chakraborty
Andreas Farge
January 30, 2024

Introduction

Real-time payments (RTP) are payment systems that enable instant and seamless transfers of funds between and among different bank accounts. RTP systems have been gaining popularity worldwide, offering fundamental benefits for consumers, merchants, and financial institutions. The world’s premier card networks are joining the wave of real-time payments. Visa Direct, the network’s instant [1] money transfer program, allows for payments between Visa credentials. Visa Direct grew 20% in Q4 2023 - more than double the Total Payments Volume of the entire network growth rate at 7%- meanwhile, the total cross-border payments volume of Visa Direct grew at 65% year-over-year.[2]

Some of the advantages of RTP are:

  • Speed - Unlike conventional payment methods that can be slow and full of friction, RTP transactions are fast and always available. RTP transactions are settled within seconds, 24/7.
  • Convenience - Without disclosing their bank details or personal information, RTP users can pay with their mobile devices by entering a distinct identifier, such as a phone number, email address, or QR code.
  • Cost - RTP transactions are usually cheaper than other payment methods, as they eliminate the need for intermediaries and reduce operational costs for banks and merchants.
  • Versatility - RTP systems can support various use cases, such as peer-to-peer transfers, bill payments, e-commerce purchases, government disbursements, and cross-border remittances.
  • Inclusion - In remote parts of the world, RTP, surprisingly, is often more inclusive for the underserved by potentially allowing individuals who were previously excluded from the formal banking sector to participate in economic activities and improve their financial well-being.
  • Innovation - By allowing new entrants and business models, such as fintechs, neobanks, and digital wallets, to provide customers with enhanced services and solutions, RTP systems can stimulate innovation and competition in the payment industry.

In line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, RTP systems have also played a key role in promoting financial inclusion, as they offer access to digital payments by enabling the unbanked and underbanked segments of the population to use their mobile phones as payment tools. Moreover, RTP systems can help combat fraud, corruption, and money laundering by increasing the transparency and traceability of transactions and reducing the reliance on cash.

Global leaders

Pix in Brazil and the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) in India are two of the most successful RTP systems worldwide.

Pix is a real-time payment system developed and operated by the Central Bank of Brazil, which allows users to make or receive payment transfers in seconds, anytime, including on-business days. Pix launched in November 2020. Pix is expected to boost the digitization of the retail payments market, increase market efficiency and competition, and promote financial inclusion in Brazil. [3]

UPI is an Indian instant payment system developed by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) in 2016, which facilitates interbank peer-to-peer and person-to-merchant transactions. UPI is a real-time payment system in India, created by the NPCI in 2016, which enables peer-to-peer and person-to-merchant transactions between banks. UPI users can pay with their mobile devices by entering a distinct UPIID or a Virtual Payment Address (VPA). UPI is one of the world's most widely used payment systems in terms of the number of users and transactions UPI has contributed to the growth of digital payments in India by offering a fast, convenient, low-cost, and versatile solution for payments and transfers. [4]

 

So what?

The rising popularity of RTP systems presents a vast opportunity for payment networks, payment enablers, deposit institutions, and merchants. By embracing RTP, payment ecosystem participants can offer customers a superior payment experience, enhance customer loyalty and retention, increase operational efficiency and profitability, and create new revenue streams and business opportunities. RTP adoption further aligns with the social and environmental goals of financial inclusion, transparency, and sustainability by enabling more people to access and benefit from digital payments and reducing the ecological impact of cash and paper-based transactions.

According to a report by ACI Worldwide and Global Data, the global volume of real-time payments is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 23.4% from 2020 to 2025, reaching 70.3 billion transactions by 2025. [5] The global trend of RTP adoption is expected to continue spreading like wildfire in the coming years as more countries and regions launch or upgrade their RTP systems and as more customers and businesses embrace the benefits of RTP.

 

Conclusion

This article reflects on the profound impact of RTP systems on the payments industry by offering a fast, convenient, cost-effective, and versatile solution for payments and transfers. RTP systems have been gaining popularity around the world and are expected to grow further in the coming years.

Our team can help your company achieve its strategic goals by providing clarity in understanding the payments industry in key advanced and emerging markets. Contact us to see how we can help.

 

[1] This capability varies by market.

[2] Visa, Investor Relations (January 25, 2024)

[3] Central Bank of Brazil

[4] Reserve Bank of India, National Payments Corporation of India

[5] ACI Worldwide and Global Data report

Sam Chakraborty
Managing Director
schakraborty@socorropartners.com
+1.917.914.2784
Andreas Farge
Manager
afarge@socorropartners.com
+1.305.703.9834
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