Real-time payments: The next major treasury disruptor

March 09, 2022

Organizations are seeking answers for the next step in the digital payment evolution, with consumer preference for speed and convenience driving expectations for businesses. The Real-Time Payment (RTP®) network enables immediate payment and the ability to deliver a digital request and receive a payment back, 24/7/365.


When The Clearing House launched the RTP network in 2017, several banks quickly adopted the solution. Today, the network reaches 60% of U.S. Demand Deposit Accounts (DDAs). Still, business adoption of the innovative faster payment rail didn’t scale upward until the global pandemic caused a major disruption in payments.

Consumer behavior showed a tremendous inclination to the faster, contactless digital solutions offered by tech-forward service providers. Since then, the dialogue in the U.S. payments ecosystem has irreversibly shifted toward offering increased speed, more choices and simpler ways of sending and receiving payments, which RTP delivers to businesses. 


RTP overview

At its heart, RTP provides faster, more reliable and safer payments, and eliminates the inefficiencies associated with paper-based payments or traditional wires. Payments aren’t restricted by processing times, which means there’s more control over payment timing with the ability to make and receive payments 24 hours a day, even on weekends and holidays. Since RTP transactions occur immediately, payments can be executed “just-in time” without any concerns around loss of float revenue. 

Real-time research on real-time payments

New research from U.S. Bank shows the rise of real-time payments across the country and improved business results for the first wave of early adopters. Gain insights into how innovative companies are using real-time payments to accelerate their digital transformation.

See our survey of 1,000 finance leaders >

What is RTP?

RTP is one of the Faster Payments solutions developed in response to a push by the Federal Reserve to increase the efficiency of the U.S. payment system and acts as a primary way to move money. It’s a comprehensive real-time payment rail with immediate settlement using a new infrastructure intended for B2C, B2B and C2B models for companies and individuals that bank with an institution on the RTP network.

RTP provides process automation and simplification by aligning with the global ISO 20022 standard, along with two-way data-rich messaging. RTP payments can currently be used for transactions up to $1 million, initiated as standalone payments or Request for Payments (RfP). 


What is RfP in RTP?

RfP is a digital way to send a request for payment and receive money back through the RTP network with immediate settlement. This functionality works well for recurring or one-time bills, subscriptions and one-time payments from vendors, partners or consumers.

With both businesses and consumers enabled, RfP simplifies the ability to move money immediately, any time of the day, any day of the year, with straight-through processing and reconciliation. 


How RTP works in real-time

The Real-Time Payments (RTP) network is designed to move at the speed of the digital economy.

With Request for Payment (RfP), it’s available for immediate billing and payment, 24/7/365.


In a B2B transaction, the RfP through RTP workflow processes payments through the following steps:

  1. The biller initiates a request for payment through their online banking application. 
  2. The biller’s bank validates that the receiver’s bank accepts RTP and routes the request for payment to the receiver’s online banking application over the RTP network. 
  3. The receiver verifies they want to pay and sends the payment back through their app. 
  4. The RTP network validates the receiver’s payment. 
  5. The RTP network sends the payment to the biller’s app. 
  6. Confirmation of the payment is provided back to the receiver’s app.

This process results in an immediate payment. For example, a food supplier could have its driver send an RfP when unloading a delivery at a restaurant. And the restaurant could pay the bill with one click that was verified immediately. 


Catching up with the real speed of business 

The exchange of information on the RTP network takes literally seconds to complete, rather than the usual one to two days from a standard ACH transaction or longer for other methods like checks. From a settlement standpoint, this saves both sides of the transaction time and expense compared to more traditional payment methods.

But catching up doesn’t have to do with just speed. The value means meeting customer expectations and creating efficiency in money movement. As RTP has evolved, certain scenarios have emerged when real-time really makes a difference, where businesses can:

  • Deliver urgent payments to customers immediately (e.g., insurance claims) 
  • Manage recurring monthly payments efficiently (e.g., utilities, gym memberships, cell phone bills) 
  • Send follow-up requests for NSF items (e.g., returned ACH payments) 
  • Enable control and pay bills with precision (e.g., on due dates)

Read more: Four ways to make practical use of Real-Time Payments.


What this means for treasury professionals

U.S. Bank was one of the first banks live on the RTP network and took part in the first-ever payment. In 2019, U.S. Bank opened all routing numbers to receive and send real-time payments with messaging capabilities.

The largest opportunities are still ahead. According to The Clearing House, 70% of businesses plan to adopt RTP in the next two years. There are also developing use cases like initiating RfPs as a follow-up to rejected checks or returned ACH payments, which provides immediate value for businesses and allows different payment options to work together.

Analysts have long predicted the demise of paper checks, yet checks are still being widely used. In B2B settings, vendors sometimes can’t accept digital payment methods and in other instances payers can’t send remittance detail electronically. To successfully reduce the volume of checks used for these transactions and deliver the experience customers expect from modern businesses, RTP can be a great option.

RTP is just one part of a comprehensive payment strategy. If you need help building that strategy, we have the resources to get you started.


To learn how real-time payments are changing the way companies do business, visit our RTP® resource page, explore our survey of 1,000 American businesses, or schedule a call with a treasury management expert.

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