In recent weeks, the Federal Reserve has released two new documents advancing its Faster Payments agenda.
The first, a final report on the two years of work from its 300-plus-member Faster Payments Task Force, is positioned as a 64-page “call to action.”
The more recent, 16-page “next steps” paper aims to maintain the task force’s momentum by updating the Fed’s framework for improvement and modernization of the U.S. payments system.
The documents provide a handy synopsis of the progress made by these collaborative efforts facilitated by the Fed.
Cynics might gripe that it took more than two years for the Fed to determine that payments system modernization was indeed necessary, and to issue yet another call to action.
But in many ways the Faster Payments Task Force accomplished its goal well before issuing a report. The Fed has spurred awareness and trained focus on the issue, created venues for collaboration, and arguably has helped speed the work of industry players pursuing solutions.
The Fed consistently made clear it had no intention of “picking winners,” but rather to convene the industry to foster market-driven solutions.
It’s also clear this is no easy task. It would be naïve to have expected implementation of a fully baked system based on the work of an industry study group.
As the Fed points out, countries already in market with modernized rails have accomplished this through mandates and/or the development of single-operator national systems. Such a model simply won’t work in the U.S. business and political climate.
A collaborative approach will be drawn out and painful—and hopefully worth the extra effort.
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