Amid the push to build a faster, more secure U.S. payment system, the Federal Reserve is sidestepping a key decision that divides the nation’s big banks from their smaller peers.

The issue is whether the Fed should have a substantial operational role in a modernized system, or should instead defer largely to the private sector. Small banks and credit unions want the Fed to take a more active stance, but that idea has not been embraced by large institutions.

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