If anything is driving innovation in the commercial payment sector, it’s technology—although not all technology and with some challenges coming into play. At the same time, growth is also the watchword when it comes to digital payments in the private sector.
Evidence of the former is in the numbers, specifically, the results of a survey of finance professionals conducted by TD Bank. Of respondents to the survey, 42 percent deemed the integration of real-time payment capabilities with online banking the technological innovation that will have the greatest positive impact on the commercial payments industry over the next three to five years. Payment professionals queried also said they foresee artificial intelligence and machine learning as sparking positive change in the industry (20 percent).
On the flip side, more advanced technologies—namely, blockchain and biometrics—are yet to be perceived as being at the forefront of positive industry change. Only 11 percent of survey respondents put blockchain in this category, and a mere four percent of respondents said biometrics belongs under the “most influential technologies” umbrella. Moreover, a whopping 64 percent of survey respondents noted that they do not view cryptocurrencies as a legitimate form of digital payment.
But survey results also show that innovation on the commercial payment side will not come without change. More than one-third (36 percent) of finance professionals who participated in the survey stated the need for corporations and/or smaller banks to update legacy infrastructure to support real-time digital payments. An overwhelming majority (74 percent) of respondents expressed a belief that integrating a mobile application for business banking would improve a company’s experience with its financial institution.
Meanwhile, the growth surge at the nation’s automated clearinghouse (ACH) network continues, statistics released by governing body NACHA show. The payments system handled 5.68 billion transactions in the quarter ended June 30 (representing a year-over-year increase of 6.2 percent). Overall growth exceeded 5 percent in 12 of the 14 quarters since the start of 2015.
Peer-to-peer (P2P) payments have seen particularly explosive growth this year, the figures show. The network processed 29.4 million P2P transactions during the second quarter of this year, for a year-over-year increase of 24 percent. P2P volume, which falls under the umbrella of the WEB credits NACHA code, hit 58.1 million transfers during the first six months of 2018, adding up to 24 percent more P2P volume than that recorded during the same period last year. Such a jump in the number of P2P transactions isn’t surprising given the number of easy-to-use P2P payment options, including—but not limited to—PayPal Holdings’ Venmo and the bank-owned Zelle.
Additionally, according to NACHA, faster payments on the network, which connects virtually all banks in the U.S., added up to 40.9 million in the quarter ended June 30. “Faster payments” comprise ACH debits and credits processed the same day they are initiated, rather than the following day as with traditional transactions. Same-day transactions processed during the first half of this year totaled 83.5 million, up from 25.2 million same-day transactions processed in the first half of 2017.
Watch for additional innovation in all segments of the payment industry. It will happen—but again, not without obstacles in the road.