Developers at Fidelity National Information Services say the speed and open nature the bank technology provider's latest product will promote greater adoption of person-to-person payments.

FIS People Pay is a bank-branded P2P platform that utilizes the Jacksonville, Fla.-based company's PayNet payment network to process transactions. The multichannel network connects to banks' core systems to provide a direct link to deposit accounts and facilitate real-time funds transfers.

"There are a number of ways we can make that transaction happen real-time, from our core integration that we do through the PayNet infrastructure, through our [electronic funds transfer] rails or through kind of a real-time [Automated Clearing House] methodology," said Nancy Langer, the division executive of e-payment solutions at FIS.

The method FIS uses to process transfers depends on the origin and destination of the funds. When the sender and the recipient both use a bank that offers People Pay, the process is handled through PayNet's direct integration with the core systems. When it's to a customer at a bank that doesn't offer People Pay, it's handled across FIS's EFT network or the ACH network.

The technology will be deployed to consumers through participating depositories. The initial launch includes a Web browser-based interface that's private-labeled to match the bank's branding and optimized for desktop computer use.

While that portal—which will typically integrate with the bank's online banking website—can be accessed on a smartphone or tablet Web browser, noticeably absent from the product launch is a dedicated, mobile-optimized website or native mobile app.

However, FIS plans to roll out mobile connectivity both through mobile-optimized websites and integration with banks' existing native apps by June—efforts that will benefit from FIS's recent acquisition of mobile banking and payments technology developer mFoundry, a company that it previously held a 22% stake in.

"The product is fully Web services-enabled. We are working internally to make sure the FIS mobile solution incorporates People Pay in the second quarter," said Chris Burfield, an e-payments product marketing director at FIS. "The service can be integrated into any mobile app, it's not proprietary to just an FIS application."

The product has been in a pilot with five banks, including an online-direct depository and what Langer described as a “very large multibank holding company,” (she declined to name the institutions). Only one of the pilot banks plans to charge consumers to use the People Pay service.

During the test period, the average transaction size was $60 and the dollar value varied between $5 and $120, though Langer noted that daily limits imposed by the banks can impact the transaction volume. The age of pilot consumers was between 20 and 50 years old. Langer said a typical use case was splitting dinner bills and during the winter holidays, FIS observed a unique case of some users pooling funds for group gifts.

Speeding P2P transactions by replacing ACH transactions with EFT and debit transfers is a goal of many payments technology providers. Fiserv's acquisition of CashEdge, which brought it the Popmoney transfer service, has furthered the technology developer's P2P aspirations. In a separate initiative, Wells Fargo, Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase partnered to launch clearXchange, which facilitates P2P payments among the banks' customers.

While Fiserv is aligning the Popmoney brand as subordinate, but complementary, to the branding of the banks that offer the service, the FIS approach is to not put its brand in front of consumers and keep the service "bank-centric," Langer said.

However, the Web services-based architecture enables FIS to integrate its P2P platform with other payments technologies, including clearXchange—which Langer said is complementary, not competitive, with the FIS offering because it provides a user directory and registry that facilitates P2P payments across bank networks.

"ClearXchange to us is a good model that makes sense to potentially work together on," she said. "We like their model because they're bank-centric."

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