MasterCard and Visa Join ClearXchange Realtime Payments Network

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / coffeekaiRealtime has gone prime time with the addition of Visa and MasterCard to the clearXchange payments network.

Today, Early Warning, which owns clearXchange, expanded its realtime payments network by adding both the Mastercard Send and Visa Direct platforms, a move that will allow nearly every U.S. debit card holder to send and receive person-to-person payments in real time, the company says.

ClearXchange already reaches more than 100 million online banking users as well as 70 million mobile banking users, Early Warning says, but the addition of MasterCard and Visa services is a significant step forward for the network due to the card networks’ extensive reach. Visa alone has issued hundreds of millions of debit cards, with Visa Direct available in over 200 markets, and MasterCard Send reaches 97% of all U.S. debit card accounts, according to MasterCard.

“Domestically, we’re going to be reaching everyone,” said Visa Senior Vice President and Head of Push Payments Cecilia Frew. “We have over 200 million debit cards in the U.S. alone, something that allows clearXchange to reach the whole market.”

ClearXchange allows anyone with a U.S. bank account to either send or receive money directly through the digital services of participating banks, which now include Bank of America, U.S. Bank, JP Morgan Chase, and Wells Fargo. Payments made via Visa Direct and MasterCard Send as part of clearXchnage do not carry a fee.

According to a statement from MasterCard, the partnership with Early Warning is “another proof point to our strategic focus on supporting banks’ efforts to provide added-value solutions to their customers, in this instance with seamless and ubiquitous P2P solutions.”

With the rise of services like PayPal’s Venmo and Square Cash, the ability of banks to provide users with swifter, more ubiquitous P2P solutions is growing more important by the day. 

Both the networks are significantly broadening their offerings beyond just cards into the digital space. MasterCard bought VocaLink, a British ACH-based payments player. Visa Direct volume “has been growing significantly,” according to Frew. More precise numbers were not available from Visa.

Realtime may be old news in Europe, but it’s still exciting news in the U.S., where, though stocks are traded in microseconds, businesses and consumers often wait days for funds to reach their accounts. The Visa and MasterCard addition help clearXchange to significantly expand the reach of realtime. Other significant players in this space include Dwolla, Fiserv, same-day ACH, and the Federal Reserve’s own faster payments initiative.

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