Why More Merchants Are Looking to Immediate Payment Solutions

Merchants are considering real-time payments for faster refunds

Author: Jen King

May 22, 2018

For many merchants, processing incoming and outgoing payments is costly. But the adoption of real-time payment (RTP) solutions may lessen the operational burden while improving customer service, according to a new survey from Ovum and payment service ACI Worldwide

An RTP solution reduces payment processing time by letting a consumer pay a merchant directly, and vice versa, without a third-party bank or credit provider being involved. 

According to Ovum and ACI Worldwide, more merchants are looking at immediate payment services compared with a year prior. In fact, this year, nearly two-thirds of respondents said they would be interested in accepting payments via an immediate payments solution—defined in the study as the infrastructure that enables the real-time clearing of payments. That's an increase of 8 percentage points from 2017. 

What's more, 78% of respondents said that immediate payments will save their company money. In contrast, 57% felt the same way last year. 

And for some, their perception of RTP solutions has changed during that same timeframe. In 2017's survey, over a third (35%) of respondents said the business case for investing in immediate payments was weak, but fast-forward to a year later and fewer respondents (12%) believe that to be true. 

Overall, immediate payments can help merchants in a variety of areas—like customer service, where they'll aid with refunds and disbursements. Managing returns and refunds can be expensive for retailers, especially due to the value consumers put on return policies that issue full refunds.

According to February 2018 Brightpearl data, US and UK retailers have seen a 40% a spike in intentional returns compared with a year ago. Meanwhile, the National Retail Federation (NRF) found that retailers expected 11% of purchases to be returned last year.

And in the Brightpearl survey, 44% of US and more than half of UK respondents said the increase in returns has strongly affected margins.