Bringing a real-time payments strategy to life

The global adoption of real-time payments is one of the fastest moving transformations in financial services. Financial institutions of all sizes are devoting resources to developing payment infrastructures and strategies to tap into real-time opportunities and bring new capabilities to customers.

However, implementing any solution without a clear vision of the goal is unlikely to provide the expected returns.

Real-time payments encompass a wide range of network and implementation options and offer a great deal of customization opportunities for each financial institution to accommodate their unique customer base.

After the business case for a real-time payment offering is complete and approved, there are several steps that can be taken to help ensure the best solution is selected and implemented.

Engage key stakeholders and internal teams at all levels: Take a holistic approach. Be sure the whole organization is aware of the possibilities real-time payments will bring to your organization and customers.

Conversations with senior executives, sales and service, and operations teams can provide an understanding of their pain points and perspectives. Identify what processes and risks can be eliminated, and share insights into how competitor organizations are leveraging real-time payment capabilities. Discuss what value-added products and services you might be able to create for your customers.

Customers are already asking your frontline associates about real-time payments, so also ensure they are equipped to answer their questions while gathering input on the types of capabilities that customers would like to be able to access.

Front-line associates often have a great deal of untapped insight that can help guide solution selection decisions. These conversations are invaluable and will help unleash creativity in developing products for your unique customer base.

Evaluate your existing systems: To effectively implement any real-time payments network or product, there are a number of systems that must be ready to support them. Assess your organization’s technology readiness by asking four critical infrastructure related questions.

  • Do we have the right infrastructure and systems to support the real-time payments options we plan to support?
  • Can our deposit system handle 24/7/365 transaction posting?
  • What payment data do we want to present via digital channels? Which customers should have digital access to each type of real-time payment?
  • Will our payment operations teams require different or more resources? Can new payment options be included into existing processes and systems?

Answering these questions up front will help ensure a smoother implementation process with fewer surprises.

Start educating stakeholders now: Once a decision is made on the type of solution to implement, begin education efforts to equip all colleagues with knowledge of the real-time capabilities that will be made available.

Taking the time up front to make sure they are familiar with the selected solution will be invaluable when the time comes to roll out new capabilities. A great deal of information (and misinformation) exists in the marketplace, so any early education will reap rich results.

Different financial institutions have rolled out real-time payments in a variety of ways, customized to their individual needs. Talk with your technology providers about your organization’s strategy, pain points and concerns. What does your organization want to achieve with real-time payments? What are the existing challenges with current payment methods? What are the concerns about moving towards real-time payments?

In addressing these questions and more, you will help bring your real-time payments strategy to life.

Carrie Blankenship is director of product management at Fiserv.