For the last century or so, cash and checks have been the methods of choice for doing business, although more recently, electronic bank transfers have allowed us to make payments directly from our bank accounts instead.
But even today, checks can still take a day or longer to clear, and the speed of electronic bank transfers are dependent on a country’s banking infrastructure. Traditionally, they have been processed in large batches once a day or several times a day and didn’t process electronic payments at all at night or on weekends.
This slowness can create significant uncertainty, especially for people struggling to make ends meet or for small business owners, who rely on receiving payments promptly to support their cash flow. And for economies where cash is still king, there is the constant risk of theft, the inability of businesses to scale beyond their communities, and the murkiness of untraceable transactions.
Countries are investing in their banking infrastructure to help money move much faster than checks and more securely than cash, bringing the benefits of the digital economy to more people and businesses. These upgraded systems are dubbed “real-time payments,” also known as “instant payments,” “faster payments” or “immediate payments.”