BALTIMORE — What’s wrong with P2P? That plaintive question shaped the presentation Monday at the PAYMENTS 2012 conference on the outlook for person-to-person payments.
The principal speaker, David Fortney, senior vice president for new product development at the Clearing House, was plain that P2P take up has been slower than many had anticipated.
One fact: P2P is scarcely a blip in terms of money movement between individuals, exchanges that still are overwhelmingly cash, sometimes via paper check, said Fortney.
The other reality: increasing numbers of futurists and other experts are predicting the disappearance of cash as soon as 2020. "We have a lot to do to get there," said Fortney.
A large hurdle, he said, is that the user experience, particularly from the payee perspective, lags. It takes many minutes to input the data needed to collect the funds and, then, it can take days for the money to actually transfer.
Some of this delay is purposive, said Fortney, who indicated that at least some big banks build delays in so that they can perform security checks. "That has to happen quicker," he said.
But a lot of the delay is that "the infrastructure is lagging," said George Throckmorton, a managing director with NACHA who also sat on the panel.
Throckmorton's talk focused on a blue sky directory plan whereby consumers would need to enroll in only one of the many P2P providers but the directory would allow for easy movement of money. He added: "P2P has to be consumer centric. Consumers want to be able to pay when and as they want."
"This is all new. We are still in the conceptual stage," added Throckmorton.
Fortney, however, suggested that maybe the fuel for P2P takeoff is already upon us. He indicated that the spread of broadband Internet fueled the rise of online banking.
"I think P2P and the mobile phone have the same connection. If P2P is as easy as using the phone that could be the difference that lets it take off," he said.