Vocalink partners with Saudi Payments on real-time payments

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Vocalink, a Mastercard unit, is partnering with Saudi Payments, a subsidiary of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority to launch real-time payments in the kingdom.

The new real-time payments platform will enable credit transfers, e-invoicing and billing, real-time payment messaging, remittances and bulk payments. The system will also enable mobile P2P transfers without the need to know the recipient’s bank details, similar to how Zelle operates in the U.S.

“Real-time payments are transforming the financial services sector globally, showcasing tremendous potential in creating efficiencies across national economies and redefining the overall experience for users in Saudi [Arabia]. Our partnership with Saudi Payments will foster further innovation across the Kingdom,” stated J.K. Khalil, general manager of Saudi Arabia & Bahrain, Mastercard in the press release.

The new Vocalink payment system will utilize the latest ISO messaging standards which will allow Saudi Payments to enable further innovation and integration across the globe. The plan is to reach the majority of financial institutions and business and consumer accounts.

Almost all new payment modernization efforts by various countries have settled on ISO 20022 as the messaging standard due to its ability to create a common messaging format across the globe as well as improved operational and cost advantages. Last July the Federal Reserve Board of Governors recommended its adoption as a new messaging format for the Fedwire Funds Service. The Fed has put the recommendation on public record to solicit comments and is proposing to migrate to ISO 20022 in three phases occurring between 2020 and 2023.

Vocalink, which drives the U.K.’s Faster Payment Service, has been very aggressive in promoting its real-time payment infrastructure to different countries across the globe since its acquisition by Mastercard in 2016.

While Vocalink has had success in winning deals, it has also lost out to competitors. Last December Vocalink signed an agreement with Peru’s automated clearinghouse, Cámara de Compensación Electrónica, to modernize the country’s payment infrastructure, including support for real-time payments. In February, Vocalink was beat out by competitor SIA for a bid to help modernize Canada’s high-value payments system.

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