What We Do

The Federal Reserve, in collaboration with the payments industry, is working toward a vision of faster, more secure, and efficient payments in the United States. The five strategies included in the Fed’s 2015 Strategies for Improving the U.S. Payments System (PDF) paper and subsequent Strategies for Improving the U.S. Payment System: Federal Reserve Next Steps in the Payments Improvement Journey (PDF) paper in 2017 represented the first steps in our multi-year payments improvement journey.

  • Speed. Support industry efforts to implement a safe, ubiquitous, faster payments capability in the United States by:
    • Supporting an interim collaboration work group and other collaborative industry efforts to develop a faster payments ecosystem that achieves the Federal Reserve and industry shared desired outcome and the Faster Payments Task Force vision;
    • Pursuing Federal Reserve settlement services that address the future needs of a ubiquitous real-time retail payments environment; and
    • Exploring and assessing the need, if any, for Federal Reserve engagement as a service provider, beyond providing settlement services, in the faster payments ecosystem to support industry achievement of the desired outcome.
  • Security. Work to reduce fraud risk and advance the safety, security and resiliency of the payment system by:
    • Analyzing payment security vulnerabilities, assessing potential approaches to mitigate them, and identifying misalignment of incentives that may hinder progress; and
    • Establishing and engaging in collective industry work groups focused on approaches for reducing the cost and prevalence of specific payment security vulnerabilities.
  • Efficiency. Achieve greater end-to-end efficiency for domestic payments by:
    • Supporting industry efforts to develop and promote adoption of standards that enable end-to-end electronic processing of business invoices, payments and remittance information.
  • International. Work to enhance the timeliness, cost effectiveness, and convenience of cross-border payments by:
    • Engaging stakeholders to understand and assess the challenges and opportunities to enhance the timeliness, cost effectiveness and convenience of cross-border payments.
  • Collaboration. Actively engage with stakeholders on initiatives designed to improve the U.S. payment system by:
    • Facilitating ongoing stakeholder engagement in payments improvement efforts through a highly interactive and flexible payments improvement community; and
    • Furthering outreach and education efforts to create awareness and encourage adoption of identified improvements and initiatives.

Progress Against the Strategies

Since the release of the “Strategies” papers, we have made key payments advances by convening stakeholders in collaborative efforts, leading improvement initiatives and continuing to enhance existing services. Although much work remains, good progress has been made.

Recent examples of our efforts include:

  • The Fed an Operator. On August 5, 2019, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System announced that the Federal Reserve Banks will build and operate the FedNowSM Service, a new interbank 24x7x365 real-time gross settlement (RTGS) service with integrated clearing functionality to support faster payments in the United States.
  • Synthetic Identity Fraud White Paper Series. The Fed kicked off the series with its first white paper, Synthetic Identity Fraud in the U.S. Payment System (PDF) in July 2019. The paper is intended to be a resource for industry professionals on the current state of synthetic identity fraud, including the scope of the issue, causes, contributing factors and its impact on the payments industry.
  • ACH, Wire and Check Payments Fraud Definitions. To date, the Fed has convened a Fraud Definitions Work Group to develop a recommended, fraud classification model and propose an industry roadmap to encourage broad adoption.
  • ISO 20022 Capabilities Directory. Through its work with the Business Payments Coalition, the Fed will publish a directory of U.S. banks and service providers that have domestic ISO 20022 capabilities. It will enable corporate and other payment-focused users to research providers and their ISO 20022 payment services.
  • Strong industry engagement. The Fed actively monitors and communicates progress, seeks feedback and solicits broader engagement on our payments improvement initiatives. Since 2016, we have presented at more than 1,000 industry conferences and stakeholder meetings, educating and bringing awareness to payments improvement. As a testament to the industry’s interest in our efforts, our FedPayments Improvement Community has grown to 5,000 strong and counting!

Past Noteworthy Accomplishments

  • Small Business Payments Toolkit (2015). The Business Payments Coalition released the Small Business Payments Toolkit (PDF) to further encourage the adoption of electronic business-to-business payments and remittance information exchanges by small businesses. Each volume builds upon the content released in previous volumes to address the evolving nature of the payment system and the needs of small businesses.
  • Faster Payments Effectiveness Criteria (2016). Through an iterative process, and coordination with the Secure Payments Task Force, the Faster Payments Task Force developed the 36 Effectiveness Criteria. The criteria are a description of stakeholder needs that serve as a guide for innovation in the industry.
  • Published the U.S. Path to Faster Payment Final Report (2017). The Faster Payments Task Force published The U.S. Path to Faster Payments (Off-site), its two-part final report, describing its motivation for pursuing faster payments solutions in the context of the current payments landscape; the task force’s assessment of proposals for faster payments solutions and recommended next steps for the industry to take to achieve safe, ubiquitous faster payments capabilities.
  • Payments Security Profiles (2018). The Secure Payments Task Force published the Payment Lifecycles and Security Profiles (Off-site), educational materials outlining the lifecycles, security characteristics and relevant laws and regulations for the most common payment types.
  • Federal Register Notice (2018). The Fed issued a Federal Register notice (Off-site), outlining proposed actions the Fed could take to facilitate real-time interbank settlement of faster payments. More than 400 comments (Off-site) and form letters were submitted in response to the notice (Off-site) from a range of payments industry stakeholders.
  • The FedPayments Improvement Community Forum (2018). The inaugural FedPayments Improvement Community Forum brought together 300 attendees under a common theme: to help shape the next steps in the Fed’s initiatives to modernize the U.S. payment system.
  • Supported Launch of U.S. Faster Payments Council (2018). The Fed supported the launch of a newly incorporated organization, the U.S. Faster Payments Council (FPC) (Off-site), to work toward the goal of a ubiquitous, world-class payment system that allows Americans to safely and securely pay anyone, anywhere, at any time and with near-immediate funds availability.


Want to know more about the Community?

Check out the great things we do in the Community including videos on some of our accomplishments.