On April 18, three industry organizations representing community banks and credit unions—the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), the Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA), and the National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions (NAFCU)—sent a letter urging the Federal Reserve System (Fed) to provide central bank settlement services in support of private sector development of future payment systems, rules, and standards. The letter also urges the Fed to take on three operational roles in addition to settlement capabilities: (i) to serve as an “on-ramp” to real-time payments; (ii) to serve as a real-time payments operator, much as it currently is an operator for checks, automated clearinghouse payments, and wire transfers; and (iii) to maintain a “payments directory” that would link together financial institutions and private-sector payments directories. The organizations argue, among other things, that the Fed’s commitment to these operational roles is critically important to achieving the “much-needed goals of safety, equitable access, and ubiquity” in developing an improved payments system. The letter emphasizes that the organizations are not requesting that the Fed develop rules or standards for real-time payments, but rather take the position that such efforts “should be left for private sector rules and standards organizations.”

As previously covered by InfoBytes, the Fed created the Faster Payments Task Force and the Secure Payments Task Force in June 2015 to lead industry efforts toward a speedier and better payments system. The CFPB also issued a set of guiding principles aimed to help private industry better protect consumers as new, faster electronic payment systems continue to emerge. (See InfoBytes coverage)  The April 18 letter “applaud[s] the formation of both [Task Forces]” and “strongly encourage[s] the ongoing commitment of the [Fed] to lead and catalyze payments industry activities until the desired outcomes stated in the 2015 Strategies for Improving the U.S. Payments System paper are achieved.”