Fintech Insights

How Overlays and APIs Are Transforming the Relevance of Real-Time Payments

Andrew Hewitt, director, Payment & Data Solutions, FIS

September 24, 2018

Whether they realize or not, most people have grown so accustomed to using APIs that they’re a fact of life to the modern digital user. The use of APIS has made the apps so many people rely on to find directions, transportation or communicate with other people and companies seamless, and simple.

In preparing this year’s Flavors of Fast report, our annual “deep dive” into the state of global faster payments, we noticed a significant increase in the use of APIs and value-added overlays applied to real-time rails. Not coincidentally, we also noted a direct correlation between the use of such services, and the growth and adoption of faster payments in those regions. For example:

  • India’s faster payment scheme, the Immediate Payment Service (IMPS), remains one of the most sophisticated schemes in the world. Its Unified Payments Interface (UPI) is an overlay on IMPS that provides application developers with an API to initiate and collect payments. In June 2018, IMPS’ scheme operator announced that monthly UPI transaction volume has risen .by about 2,000%, over the course of just one year. Its daily faster payment transaction volume in India has also increased by about 40%, since last year.
  • China now processes more than 25 million faster payments transactions a day, which is more than double its 2017 transaction volume. In several parts of Asia, the resurgence of the QR code as a payment origination mechanism has helped drive the use of faster payment services. The process couldn’t be simpler: A merchant posts a sign of his or her unique QR code near his place of business, on a motorbike or taxi, or even on a shirt. The customer points her mobile device to it, and funds are transferred instantly. No card. No point of sale terminal. No waiting.
  • Though faster payment overlays tend to focus on P2P use cases first, we’ve also seen an increasing number of governments and corporates taking advantage of overlays and APIs on real-time rails this year.

  • When Singapore launched its PayNow corporate app in August 2018 to enable companies and the government to pay and receive funds instantly, more than 90 percent of business customers had registered to use it—before it launched.
  • Government payments in Thailand and the Philippines are pushed using QR codes and the underlying faster payment rails. This helps these regions reduce cash reliance, move more people away from the black economy, raise tax revenue and guard against fraud and money laundering.
  • APIs are also increasingly being embedded into the core native treasury applications, to move traditionally tech-resistant sectors into a new era of immediacy. An exclusive interview in our 2018 Flavors of Fast report explores how one major financial institution has used APIs to move batch-oriented processes towards a real-time, 24/7 environment.

To read more about how value-added overlays and APIs are transforming the function, value and relevance of faster payment rails, visit and download our 2018 Flavors of Fast report.

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Tags: Innovation, Payments, Technology