Citizens Bank Study: Real-Time Payments, Mobile Payments Will “Transform Commerce”.

May 23, 2019         By: Steven Anderson

Trying to get businesses to agree on the present is hard enough. The future is even worse; with all the possibilities the future brings along with it trying to get a handle on just what will happen is next to impossible. Citizens Commercial Banking, meanwhile, recently released a report that says businesses are almost unanimous on one point: real-time payments will fundamentally “transform commerce.”

The report, dubbed “Real-Time Payments Outlook,” notes that 90 percent of businesses expect real-time payments, to really shake up their respective markets. Sure, that’s not a complete agreement, but getting 90 percent agreement on one topic is noteworthy on its own merits. In fact, for almost two out of three businesses responding, the upgrades to the US payment system that real-time payments represents will likely push the United States over into a full-on cashless society. It will, as the study puts it, “likely mean the end of cash and check payments…”.

It’s a development businesses are eagerly looking forward to, as over 75 percent of businesses currently use paper check in either making or accepting payments. Over 45 still make or accept some payment in cash, which means a move to real-time payments could be a huge step forward.

With checks taking a day or more to clear, it can represent a real shot in the arm to a business’ cash flow, the fundamental measure of its overall health. Additionally, with 41 percent of businesses actively discussing real-time payments with their bank or putting it in play, and 60 percent genuinely believing collection activity would be improved with real-time payments, it’s clear there’s a lot of incentive for businesses to put it to work.

Of course, there’s still value in accepting cash and paper check in business, even with a move to real-time payments. In some cases it’s a matter of law; a growing number of states and municipalities are requiring businesses to accept cash for the sake of the unbanked and underbanked in the area. We’ve already seen this a few times with Amazon’s recent forays into cashless operations.

Still though, if businesses focus on real-time payments for their internal operations, and leave cash available to the customer-facing operations, it should split the difference reasonably well.