NACM Credit Congress 2014 Fed Unveils Preliminary Findings of Payments Study for First Time to NACM Membership

As noted throughout Fall 2013, the Federal Reserve’s Financial Services Division reached out to the NACM membership for the trade credit perspective while crafting solutions to improve the entire US payment systems. On Wednesday, at Credit Congress in Orlando, the Fed presented some initial findings for the first time to date, findings that indicate businesses overwhelmingly believe the US needs to evolve in its payments systems…and fast.

“The US from a payment perspective is starting to fall back a bit,” said Dan Gonzalez, from the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. “A number of other countries have already started to put into place new payment methods.”

The survey conducted through the Fed last Fall/early Winter, which a number of NACM members participated in, showed the following results, among others.
  • 67% of businesses won’t use a payment method unless it is widely accepted (which intimates that it is hard for new payment methods to emerge).
  • More than 80% want much faster, almost immediate notification/tracking when a payment is made or received, though businesses almost universally valued security over speed.
  • Broad support for the Fed to have more activity (such as developing and implementing hard standards on payments) to improve the US payment system.
  • Merchants expressed desire for payment system governance structure that allows them to have more influence.
  • 81% of business indicated that they would rather share and email address or a phone number to make/receive payments. When making a payment, not having to give bank account information to the payee is important. (Re: People want to mask their information).    
  • 75% of businesses (compared to only 33% of consumers) are willing to pay a few for faster availability/clearance of payments.

Two areas received little interest from Fed survey respondents: improvements to traditional (hard/paper) check enhancements and focus on international payments. Within checks, Gonzalez noted their use represents a “downward trend as far as payer-use goes,” even though it remains a big part of the US payment landscape, from a percentage basis, for now. But it seems to be clearly on the way out as technology advances. Per international payments, respondents showed a desire to “worry about our domestic house first,” as Gonzalez described. Among other issues, because there are so many financial institutions and diversity/complications among them, people just don’t want to spread the focus too much outside of the border at the moment. It’s more of a “keep an eye on it” area than a priority, Gonzalez told Credit Congress delegates.

- Brian Shappell, CBA, CICP, NACM staff writer

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