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Clearing and Settlement Systems from Around the World: A Qualitative Analysis

Research released by Payments Canada and the Bank of Canada, see*, which reviewed clearing and settlement systems and payment system modernization initiatives in 27 jurisdictions found that:

  • Most have added (or are in the process of adding) a new real-time retail system.
  • All jurisdictions have a batch retail payment system, and most use centralized architecture. Automated clearing house (ACH) systems are the most common. Jurisdictions that maintain a batch retail payment system without centralized architecture have built additional core retail systems to provide for faster processing and enhanced functionality (e.g., real-time retail payment systems or separate systems for bill payments).
  • The vast majority of jurisdictions have made major upgrades to their large-value payment systems (LVPS) in the past 10 years, keeping LVPS at the centre of core payment systems. Most LVPS have been redesigned to include liquidity-savings mechanisms (LSM), with technology to facilitate advanced liquidity management and faster retail payment system settlement.

Most prominent trends

Looking across the different payment system attributes of access, functionality, interoperability, timeliness of payments and risk management, the most prominent trends they observed were:

  • Access: Jurisdictions are opening up their core payment systems to greater numbers of direct participants. The increasing numbers of direct participants have coincided with jurisdictions upgrading core payment system technology to enable risk-reduction processes and controls.
  • Functionality: Payment operators are leveraging centralized architecture to implement advanced system capabilities to provide monitoring and efficiency-boosting tools (e.g., liquidity-management tools) for participants and value-added services for end-users.
  • Interoperability: Payment systems are expanding their degree of interoperability (automation), mostly between core infrastructure and other domestic payment systems and, in some cases, cross-border systems.
  • Timeliness: Most jurisdictions have introduced (or are developing) separate retail payment systems for direct credit transactions that provide funds access in real or near real time. Depending on the features of the batch retail system, real-time systems can gain wider usage by being designed to serve either business or consumer payments.
  • Risk management: Most jurisdictions are making payment system changes to reduce credit risk exposures, such as through more frequent retail payment system settlement and expanding LVPS processing capabilities.

Four core payment systems/country

The researchers found: “The vast majority of jurisdictions have upgraded more than one core payment system. In the jurisdictions that have made technological advancements to more than one core payment system (e.g., a real-time system and batch retail system, or to a retail system and a wholesale system) the result has been highly interoperable, yet distinct, core systems that are complementary in meeting public policy objectives. Here we observe four distinct core payment system configurations emerging:

  • Enhanced large-value payment systems (LVPS) that can process large volumes of retail payments. LVPS are operated alongside batch retail systems with centralized architecture (e.g., an ACH). In this configuration, the LVPS provides safety and speed, and the batch system provides enhanced functionality and services for end-users.
  • ACH systems supplemented with new real-time (or near real-time) retail payment systems. The ACH provides liquidity cost efficiencies and offers rich services for participants and end-users, but with a delay in the availability of funds for payees. The real-time retail payment system provides end-users with an option for faster funds availability where needed.
  • Settlement before exchange (SBE) batch retail systems supplemented by new real-time retail payment systems. The SBE systems use an integrated retail and settlement system process that minimizes credit risk, while offering the potential to also improve batch item timeliness and functionality. The real-time systems provide participants and end-users more timely payment options.
  • Decentralized batch retail payment systems supplemented by additional core payment systems with centralized architecture to offer more feature-rich and timely payment options.


* “Clearing and Settlement Systems from Around the World: A Qualitative Analysis” by Michael Tompkins, Payments Canada, and Ariel Olivares, Bank of Canada

CTMfile take: Real-time or near real-time payment services will be available in most jurisdictions: how are you going to use these to improve your payment and collections?

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This item appears in the following sections:
Payments - Receipts
Accounts Receivable Management
Direct Debit Bill Payments
Regular Bill Payments from Businesses
Regular Bill Payments from Consumers
Payments - Disbursements
Accounts Payable Management
International Payments
Paying Payroll, Pensions, etc.
Paying Suppliers
Urgent/Instant .Payments

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