By Sean Carter, AAP, NCP, President and CEO, NEACH
Center for Payments Executive Committee Member

Payments industry insight is critical to all financial institutions’ success, regardless of their size or capacity. That’s why ten payments associations, representing more than 8,000 financial institutions, joined together to create the Center for Payments. Our mission is to advance the payments industry as a united voice through market intelligence and thought leadership.

“The Center for Payments is uniquely positioned to meet the needs of the industry as it looks toward the future,” says Steve Roy, President & CEO, Tricorp Federal Credit Union. “In light of what we have learned from COVID-19, the need for market intelligence and thought leadership has never been more important.”

As COVID-19 swept across the nation and the world in 2020, financial institutions had to adapt to accelerated timelines for everything from payments digitization to responding to increased fraudulent activity. Digital projects, including online account opening, electronic loan processing, and others that were put on the back burner, suddenly became priorities.

Although financial institutions were already in discussions around these topics, COVID-19 fast-tracked the need for new market intelligence to inform strategies around the digitization of payments, with an initial focus on online account opening. Insights gleaned from the research can then support specific strategies and actions to thwart potential bad actors and manage day-to-day operations. These results may also help financial institutions prepare for future wide-scale threats to the U.S. financial system.

With that in mind, the Center for Payments released “Digitizing Payments: The Online Account Opening Experience,” a survey that seeks to shed light on how the pandemic impacted financial institutions’ customers/members online account activities. The survey aims to highlight industry best practices and procedures to detect, evaluate, and mitigate hazards throughout the online account opening experience. (Survey results will be available to Payments Association members in February 2021.)

“The COVID-19 crisis accentuated the need for increased market intelligence on digital account activity, and specifically, online account opening,” Roy explains. “Strong, actionable data helps financial institutions stay ahead of the digital curve.”

For example, in 2019, the Center for Payments released its first survey results, which focused on faster payments in the U.S. The results were eye-opening. Eighty-five percent of institutions surveyed said that they expect demand for faster payments in one to two years; yet, only 34 percent of institutions surveyed said they had a payments strategy in place.

Because this survey shed light on the need for a payments strategy, many financial institutions began creating payments strategies that would consider the expected surge in faster payments. This meant that when COVID-19 hit, financial institutions were better prepared, with guideposts in place, which enabled them to accelerate digital payments, a critical need during the pandemic.

The Center for Payments’ success is due, in part, to its extensive reach and industry network. The BIGCast podcast, “Faster. Smarter. Better.” summarized it well:

The Center for Payments leverages the power of 8,000 plus U.S. financial institutions. It acts as an unbiased third-party to complete research that small- and mid-size institutions might not normally have access to.

This, coupled with The Center for Payments’ access to leading industry organizations such as Nacha, the Fed, the Clearing House (TCH), the Faster Payments Council (FPC), ECCHO, and others, helps to make it a valuable resource and a leading influential voice in the industry. 

While only time will tell what’s next for the payments landscape, you can be confident that the Center for Payments will be working to stay ahead of those trends to support FIs nationwide on their individual payments journeys.

To learn more about the Center for Payments and its work, contact your payments association.

About the Center for Payments

The Center for Payments is a joint program sponsored by ten payments associations for the purpose of helping members and staff better prepare for the continued evolution in U.S. payment systems. The Center for Payments’ mission is to advance the payments industry as a united voice through market intelligence and thought leadership. Follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn or email

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