Call P2P – person-to-person payments – the problem child of 21st century banking. Just about every expert thinks it should be the cool tool we all embrace to split lunch tabs, pay babysitters, send birthday gifts to nieces and yet almost none of us actually use any of the many available p2p tools.
But just maybe things are heating up as suddenly both Brookfield, Wis.-based Fiserv and archrival Jacksonville, Fla.-based FIS have made bold, optimistic statements about real-time P2P coming at you and your credit union.
A fact: usually several days pass before current P2P payments clear. Thus there’s an absurdity in using it to, say, “settle” a lunch tab when the reality is that the person who pays the meal bill will get your share quicker if you give him $10 in cash tomorrow. Or the next day. And he doesn’t have to hassle with redirecting money from PayPal or Popmoney or whatever into an ACH account.
Now that is changing, per separate announcements from Fiserv and FIS, both of which are touting what they call “real-time” P2P.
At FIS their big news is a just-released study – conducted for FIS by Ipsos Vantis – that, said FIS executive vice president Anthony Jabbour, underlines that what consumers want from P2P is real time. “We always believed that; the study shows it.”
In the study, 80% of overseas money transfer recipients said instant was “extremely/very important.” Some 58% of account to account recipients said the same. And 41% of P2P recipients also pointed to instant as what matters.
“There will be a lot more P2P volume as consumers realize this will perform instant transfers,” said Jabbour.
Better news for credit unions: “We believe real-time p2p will drive revenues for financial institutions and it will also allow the ones who offer it to stay competitive,” said Jabbour.
He added in an email: “P2P has been around for quite some time. It’s the combination of mobile + real-time + P2P that can truly drive the adoption of real-time payments. We know this because the research shows that young and mobile consumers especially want to conduct real-time payments. Financial institutions can’t afford to cede this space to non-traditional payment providers and FIS is providing the real-time payment rails and solution capabilities that will enable credit unions to be at the center of this movement.”
Not to be outdone, Fiserv also is making a big P2P announcement and it pertains to the rollout of what the company calls Popmoney Instant Payments. It will soon go live at its first institution, PNC in Pittsburgh, said senior Popmoney executive Tom Roberts.
Roberts added that Popmoney Instant Payments eventually will be made available to any institution offering Popmoney (“there are north of 1,800,” he said), but presently they also have to be on either the STAR or Fiserv’s Accel payments networks. That shrinks the number of possible institutional adopters but, said Roberts, it’s still in the hundreds. He also indicated that Fiserv plans to extend its network coverage as it builds out its instant transfer user base.
One difference between the Fiserv and FIS P2P pools is that, for now, Fiserv instant is not yet integrated into the company’s mobile apps, said Roberts. The plan is to get there but at launch it will only be available to PNC’s online banking customers.
FIS has a starkly different perspective. “It’s mobile that will drive the popularity of instant P2P,” said Jabbour.
How much will users be willing to pay for instant P2P? Neither executive would touch that.
Said Roberts: “It will be up the offering institution to set its own price schedule.”
On another P2P note, Roberts also declined comment on the rumors swirling that Popmoney is seeking to forge some kind of relationship with clearXchange, the P2P engine owned by Chase, Wells Fargo and Bank of America.
Either way: a bottom line is that momentum around P2P is growing. Usage remains nascent. But advocates continue to trumpet the utility of P2P and just maybe it’s getting ready for a central role in the consumer’s digital wallet.