The Federal Reserve’s new real-time payments system known as FedNow is expected to go live as early as May 2023, a Fed official said recently.
In development for effectively a decade, FedNow is expected to allow banks and credit unions of any size to send payments to each other in real-time. That will allow bank customers to send real-time payments to one another on the same rails.
The system will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and is expected to cost significantly less than fees charged for wire transfers or debit card transactions.
While the Fed has been developing FedNow, other banks and the entire cryptocurrency industry have been pushing for their own alternatives for real-time payments. The banking industry has Zelle, which allows individuals to send payments to each other in real time. There are also services like Venmo and PayPal that have grown in popularity.
Speaking Monday via webcast to a FedNow early adopter workshop in Rosemont, Illinois, Fed Vice Chair Lael Brainard said she expects the system to launch between May and July next year. Previously the Fed had given vague timetables on when it expected to launch FedNow.
“Having the capacity to manage money in real time could help households avoid costly late payment fees or free up working capital for small businesses to finance growth,” Brainard said. “Indeed, during the pandemic, we witnessed how essential rapid access to funds can be, as many households started spending emergency relief payments on the day they were received.”