Real-Time Payments is a instant payment service developed by The Clearing House. It reaches roughly 65% of US depository accounts. It’s USD only.
Each participating financial institution maintains a balance in a shared New York Federal Reserve account to fund their account holders’ activity. This allows interbank settlement to happen immediately.
Unlike wires, Real-Time Payments doesn’t have a culture of manual intervention. This leads to more immediate and deterministic operations.
The network is always available, excepting scheduled downtime for maintenance. Transactions are confirmed by receiving institutions in real-time.
Real-Time Payments works well but because support isn’t as widespread as ACH you need a fallback.
You can see if a routing number supports Real-Time Payments using our Routing Number endpoint (https://increase.com/documentation/api#routing-numbers).
Real-Time Payments use the ISO 20022 messaging format, which defines a wide ontology of financial services metadata. The FedNow service uses the same format.
Real-Time Payments are subject to limits by The Clearing House. As of August 2023, the per-transaction limit is $1,000,000, the same as the NACHA same-day clearing.
Request for Payment
Real-Time Payments supports a "Request for Payment" mechanism. This feature allows beneficiaries to request funds from another party. The user experience varies by institution.
Rejections, not reversals
Real-Time Payments transfers can fail. Common reasons are that the receiving account number details aren’t valid or the account has been closed. Once they succeed, Real-Time Payments cannot be reversed or returned.
Zelle and related networks
Zelle is a digital payments network with a similar profile. Zelle payments can be settled over the Real-Time Payments network, but they are not interoperable.