Voice of the Industry

The future of payments is real-time – and it's closer than you think

Friday 30 September 2022 08:34 CET | Editor: Raluca Ochiana | Voice of the industry

Real-time payments (RTPs) are not just here to stay — they will become the dominant technology. Learn how RTPs are changing the world, from boosting country GDPs to improving payments interoperability.


The fintech landscape has been experiencing a Cambrian explosion. Shifting consumer behaviour, the global pandemic, government initiatives, and technological advancements are drastically changing the way we pay and are being paid. In response, the payments industry is also adjusting to meet the demands of consumers and businesses alike. 

Among the most critical changes the world is seeing right now is the rise of mobile wallets and real-time payments (RTPs): both have a high chance to cause a major structural change in the competitive landscape and the way market operators should be fundamentally thinking about their strategy. In our recent article, we explained the basics of this technology and how payment infrastructure companies such as Thunes are building bridges between RTP networks across the globe.

As of 2022, 65+ countries, or up to 72% of the world population, have access to a live or upcoming real-time payments infrastructure. And as more and more countries invest in upgrading their payment infrastructure and more businesses start using RTP for their everyday operations, we will see a continued growth in the adoption of real-time payments around the world.

But what will happen with the world where real-time payments become truly dominant?

First – and the most obvious positive implication of RTPs – is the cost reduction for merchants, as well as higher transaction success rate. Generally, RTPs are priced much lower in comparison to card payments or bank transfers, and there is also a minor proportion of failed or fraudulent payments. This brings a welcome contribution to the overall cost structure and profitability for brands, retailers, and marketplaces. 

A recent report suggests that failed or declined payments cost businesses a whopping USD 118.5 billion in lost sales, higher acquisition costs, administration, and fees. By contrast, real-time payments systems can help to reduce these failures by providing immediate confirmation of whether a payment has been successful. This not only reduces the likelihood of late payments, but also helps to improve cash flow management.

Another interesting feature of RTPs is that they are now being used to carry richer data in payment messages. This will allow businesses to send more information with their payment message – and provide real-time offers or data insights, making the process more rewarding for the consumers. Imagine the ability to engage with customers at the moment of payment and deliver a real-time personalised message – the evolution of RTP will enable a new wave of consumer engagement programmes.

On a national level, payments will become more inclusive and interoperable, as RTP networks often include non-bank financial institutions (NBFIs) and mobile wallets. This is already the case in countries such as India or Brazil. Many domestic RTPs are complemented by a national consumer’s digital identifier system, where consumers use their mobile phone numbers, not bank account details, to pay each other. Such interoperable systems will further drive the adoption of digital payments and make them more accessible to a wider range of customers: wherever banks are unable to reach, mobile wallets come in to bring payments to more people.

Finally, the digitalisation of payments will improve the overall efficiency of financial systems and eliminate the money locked in checks and other payment methods. More transparency means more tax contributions, and according to macroeconomists, the speed with which money circulates has a positive impact on the GDP. So those companies that are looking to increase the GDP of the Internet should consider betting on real-time payments as part of their strategy.

On a global scale, these benefits are currently being limited by the lack of international interoperability between different domestic real-time payment systems. These systems are often siloed, which limits their cross-border potential. Companies like Thunes are building a universal and inclusive payment infrastructure layer that helps to connect the patchwork of domestic RTPs and unlock the true potential of this technology.

Looking ahead, it’s clear that RTP is not just here to stay – it is going to become the dominant technology. This will have a transformative effect on the global economy, making it easier for businesses and individuals to make and receive payments faster, no matter where their counterparty is located. 

About Irina Chuchkina

Irina Chuchkina is Chief Marketing Officer at Thunes, and leads Thunes’ global Marketing & Communications department, laying the foundations of competitive positioning, supporting top-line revenue growth, and overseeing key growth and marketing campaigns and initiatives. Passionate about Fintech and Payments, she spent 17 years leading Marketing & Partnerships for large Payments and Technology companies, and also serves as a member of the Executive Committee of the Singapore Fintech Association.

About Thunes

Thunes is a B2B company that powers payments for the world’s fastest-growing businesses. Thanks to a single API connection, customers reach new markets and multiple payment options in over 130 countries without the need for countless integrations to multiple systems. Today, more than 100 banks, payment service providers (PSPs), money transfer operators (MTOs), mobile wallet operators, platforms, and fintech companies around the world use us to process cross-border payments in a cheaper, faster, more transparent, and more secure way.

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Keywords: payment methods, real-time payments, fintech, Thunes, digitalisation
Categories: Payments & Commerce
Companies: Thunes
Countries: World
This article is part of category

Payments & Commerce


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