Economy

Long-awaited Fed digital payment system to launch in July

The Marriner S. Eccles Federal Reserve Board Building in Washington, D.C.
Sarah Silbiger | Reuters

The Federal Reserve’s digital payments system, which it promises will help speed up the way money moves around the world, will debut in July.

FedNow, as it will be known, will create “a leading-edge payments system that is resilient, adaptive, and accessible,” said Richmond Fed President Tom Barkin, who is the program’s executive sponsor.

The system will allow bill payments, money transfers such as paychecks and disbursements from the government, as well as a host of other consumer activities to move more rapidly and at lower cost, according to the program’s goals.

Participants will complete a training and certification process in early April, according to a Fed announcement.

“With the launch drawing near, we urge financial institutions and their industry partners to move full steam ahead with preparations to join the FedNow Service,” said Ken Montgomery, the program executive and first vice president at the Boston Fed, which helped spearhead the project under former Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren.

Institutions that participate in the program will have seven-day, 24-hour access, as opposed to a system currently in place that closes on weekends.

Program advocates say it will get money out to people much more quickly. For instance, they said, government payments like those issued in the early days of the Covid pandemic would have been credited to accounts immediately rather than the days it took to reach most people.

Some Fed officials say the program even could supplant the need for a central bank digital currency.

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