2024 global policy initiatives to turbocharge real-time and open banking payments
2024 will see governments and regulators across continents search for quicker, safer and more cost-effective ways of moving money around their economies and societies. Open banking and real-time account-to-account (A2A) payments are at the forefront of these efforts.
A plethora of policy reforms will bring their combined benefits of instancy, security and cost-effectiveness to more businesses and consumers transacting in the digital economy, challenging the dominance of global card networks.
Below are some of the key policy agendas that I believe merchants should look out for this year.
The UK is an established world-leader in open banking, through its combination of regulation and mandated open APIs standards. This year, government and regulators want to unlock the full potential of payment initiation services. Expected activity includes:
- Clarity on long-term open banking regulation: New oversight arrangements will be unveiled by the UK’s Joint Regulatory Oversight Committee (JROC) in Q1 this year, giving fintechs and the wider ecosystem the clarity they need to continue investing in innovative open banking payments services for businesses and consumers.
- Piloting Variable Recurring Payment use cases: A JROC-sponsored pilot of consumer-to-business Variable Recurring Payments will launch in Q3, with utilities, financial services firms and central and local governments the first in line to offer this more flexible open banking payment option to customers.
- Developing a new National Payments Vision: Work will commence early this year on a new payments strategy for the UK, as recommended by last autumn’s Future of Payments Review. We expect the Vision to reinforce the government’s commitment to capturing more fully the opportunities of open banking and real-time A2A payments.
Having pioneered open banking regulation through its second Payment Services Directive (PSD2), the EU will focus in the months ahead on removing barriers to the emergence of truly pan-European open banking payment services. This will involve:
- Revising the open banking rulebook: EU institutions will continue their scrutiny of a proposed new Regulation (PSR) and Directive (PSD3) intended to upgrade the PSD2 framework. Key aims include better-performing APIs, the removal of obstacles to payment initiation, and more consistent user experiences across EU member countries.
- Widening access to instant payments: The EU’s Instant Payments Regulation will be finalised in Q1, driving universal access to real-time A2A euro payments across the EU over the next two years. This will make open banking payment services an even more compelling alternative to card payments for merchants and their customers.
- Developing premium open banking payments services: Europe’s open banking ecosystem will begin operationalising its SEPA Payment Account Access (SPAA) scheme, a self-regulatory model for commercial APIs that will, over time, enable fintechs to bring businesses new payment options including Dynamic Recurring Payments.
- More payment options for digital platform service users: Taking effect in March, the EU’s Digital Markets Act will give merchants trading on certain BigTech platforms the opportunity to access new payment methods, such as open banking payments, rather than settling with platforms’ embedded offerings.
Payment initiation will be a key policy theme in Australia this year, with the country’s New Payments Platform (NPP) stoking innovation in real-time A2A payments as its lawmakers consider an extension of Australian consumers’ data access rights. We can expect:
- Accelerating adoption of real-time payments: Policymakers expect NPP’s PayTo service to modernise legacy payment options like direct debit, giving payers more control and transparency over recurring payments. Volt is leveraging PayTo to enable merchants to receive instant payments from customers, direct from their bank accounts.
- Efforts to extend the Consumer Data Right to action initiation: Parliamentarians will continue examining legislation designed to give consumers a new right to instruct third parties to initiate actions by businesses, including banks, on their behalf. If passed, it could fuel more innovation in payments initiation in the years ahead, building on PayTo.
- A review of the Strategic Plan for Australia’s Payments System: In mid-2024, the government will kick off a review of its Strategic Plan’s key priorities and initiatives, such as upgrading payments infrastructure, and boosting competition and innovation (including through payments initiation). An updated plan will be published next year.
Although only three years old, Brazil’s instant A2A payment system Pix is now processing 4.2 billion transactions every month. This year, the central bank will add new functionality that is likely to increase its popularity further. Expected activity includes:
- Launching merchant-initiated recurring payments: Banco Central do Brasil will launch Pix Automático in October, enabling merchants to set up instructions for recurring payments from their customers, with their prior consent. This is expected to support use cases like streaming, subscriptions and financial services.
Home to one of the world’s most vibrant open banking ecosystems, the US still lacks a regulatory framework comparable to those of other countries. Its regulators want to address this gap in 2024, while driving uptake of instant A2A payments services. Look out for:
- Intensifying debate on a new regulatory framework for open banking: The US’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau wants to finalise a new Personal Financial Data Right rule by the autumn, empowering consumers to access and share their own financial data with third parties, within a clear framework of standards and protections.
- A focus on driving adoption of new instant payments infrastructure: Following its launch of FedNow last year, the Federal Reserve will be encouraging more banks to participate in the new instant payments service, so that innovative new real-time A2A payment services reach as many US consumers and businesses as possible.
New opportunities to harness real-time payments
As this snapshot of global initiatives shows, policymakers around the world recognise that combining instant account-based payments infrastructure with open banking frameworks is the key to unlocking competitive, innovative markets for digital payment services.
Executed successfully, these planned reforms promise more seamless payment experiences for consumers, and faster, more secure and cost-effective alternatives for merchants to the card-based payment services they often have to rely on.
Regulatory change can leave businesses who transact online facing complexity, as well as huge opportunity. Volt will be partnering closely with our merchants this year to demystify these policy changes, and help them seize opportunities to grow their revenue with real-time payments.