FedNow to Launch this Month and Enable 24/7 Instant Fund Transfers
The US Federal Reserve is on the verge of launching its much-anticipated FedNow service, allowing Americans to transfer funds within seconds, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The central bank has mentioned that FedNow has no relation with central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) and is not intended to replace any form of payment. But what is it, and how does it work?
What is FedNow?
FedNow is a service developed by the Federal Reserve that will be accessible to depository institutions in the US, enabling individuals and businesses to make instant payments through their depository institution accounts. According to an official blog post, the service is designed to be a flexible and neutral platform that supports a wide range of instant payments.
At its core, FedNow will provide interbank clearing and settlement that allows for near-real-time transfer of funds. However, what makes FedNow unique is its uninterrupted processing, which allows payments to be made at any time, on any day of the year, including weekends and holidays.
“Depository institutions and their service providers will be able to build on this fundamental capability to offer value-added services to their customers,” the Fed said. Furthermore, the service will provide a liquidity management tool to support instant payment services, allowing participants to transfer funds among themselves to meet liquidity needs.
It will also support private-sector instant payment service participants through transfers between master and joint accounts.
The initial release of the FedNow Service will include optional features such as fraud prevention tools, the ability to join as a receive-only participant, request for payment capability, and tools to assist with payment inquiries.
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FedNow Launch Set For Late July
Although the fee structures and governing terms for the FedNow Service are yet to be announced, the FedNow service is set to launch by the end of the month. The payment infrastructure has been under development since 2019.
FedNow is set to launch with 41 banks and 15 service providers already certified to use the service. These include community banks and major lenders such as JPMorgan Chase, Bank of New York Mellon, and US Bancorp. The Fed plans to onboard more banks and credit unions throughout this year.
It is worth noting that the introduction of FedNow will create competition for private sector real-time payment systems, including The Clearing House’s RTP network. Although initially opposed by big banks who deemed it redundant, many have now agreed to participate, recognizing the opportunity to expand the services they can offer their clients.
FedNow is Not Related to a Digital Currency
The FedNow Service is unrelated to a digital currency, the Fed said in its FAQs. Instead, it is a payment service the Federal Reserve provides for banks and credit unions to transfer funds for their customers. “It is like other Federal Reserve payment services, such as Fedwire and FedACH,” the central bank said.
The Federal Reserve has not decided on issuing a central bank digital currency (CBDC) and would only proceed with such an initiative if authorized by law. In March 2023, Chair Powell testified before the House Financial Services Committee that a CBDC is “something we would certainly need Congressional approval for.”
In a May 11 announcement, the Metal Blockchain team said the Federal Reserve’s FedNow will be connected to Metal Blockchain. Metal Blockchain is a crypto network developed by Metallicus based on a fork of Avalanche’s code.
Do you think the FedNow service could rival blockchain-based payments? Let us know in the comments below.