The Clearing House and FIS say they are less than a year away from testing the first real-time payments network in the U.S., focusing on bill payment through early-adopter financial institutions.

Late last year, The Clearing House first revealed it would incorporate FIS technology into its process as part of a partnership with VocaLink to develop a real-time payments system in the U.S. VocaLink has experience in this area, having established the U.K.'s Faster Payments Service.

The companies plan to go live with the real-time payments test in the first quarter of 2017, offering payments that clear and settle in real time at the banks offering the service.

"This is a critical initiative, designed to transform the payments landscape in the U.S.," Anthony Jabbour, chief operating officer for banking and payments at FIS, said in an April 18 press release. "The Clearing House asked FIS to lead this pilot program and we're honored to play such a pivotal role."

Since the Federal Reserve initiated a faster payments project in the U.S. nearly three years ago, many players have responded, with the nation's banking system keeping a close eye on all developments and how the pieces might fit in a national real-time system.

The Clearing House, an operator of the Automated Clearing House network, has been one of those players accelerating real-time payments through various partnerships and pilots.

FIS has established banking and real-time payments technology through its PayNet network, while also working closely with The Clearing House on the Federal Reserve project.

The companies are among 19 organizations on the Fed's faster payments task force steering committee that is evaluating approaches for implementing real-time payments in the U.S.

"FIS is a proven leader with extensive experience in developing and delivering innovative new payments services to its customers, so we are excited they have partnered with us to launch this pilot program," Russ Waterhouse, executive vice president for product development and strategy at The Clearing House, said in the release.

"True, real-time payments that clear and settle within seconds are right around the corner," Waterhouse added. "Not only is FIS helping us bring this system to market quickly, they are also going to play a key role in helping us achieve ubiquity in the U.S."

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