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CBDC Alternative FedNow to Launch Next Summer

The Federal Reserve's instant payment system, FedNow, could go live between May and July.

CBDC Alternative FedNow to Launch Next Summer
Shutterstock cover by Paul Brady Photography

Key Takeaways

  • Federal Reserve Vice Chair Lael Brainard announced today that FedNow is scheduled to launch between May and July 2023.
  • FedNow is the Federal Reserve’s instant payment service; it will allow households, businesses, and financial institutions to settle transactions at any time of any day.
  • Federal Reserve Governor Michelle Bowman believes FedNow resolves some issues that a CBDC would address.

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The U.S. Federal Reserve says that it will introduce its instant payments service, FedNow, by next summer.

FedNow Set to Launch Next Year

The Federal Reserve is getting ready to launch FedNow, a new payment facilitation system that could mitigate the need for a central bank digital currency.

Lael Brainard, Vice Chair of the Federal Reserve, announced today that the FedNow Service is expected to go live between May and July 2023. Brainard also said the system would undergo technical testing beginning this September.

The news was revealed on August 29 at an Early Adopter Workshop in Rosemont, Illinois via webcast.

During today’s workshop, Brainard called on financial institutions and software providers in the United States to update their systems in anticipation of the launch of the new service.

“The shift to real-time payment infrastructure requires a focused effort, but the shift is inevitable,” Brainard said. “The time is now for all key stakeholders…to devote the resources necessary to support instant payments.”

 Initiatives such as a pilot program, the FedNow Explorer resource, the FedNow Community, and the FedNow Early Adopter Workshop are expected to increase engagement.

According to the Federal Reserve, FedNow is an instant payment system that offers real-time transactions between households, businesses, and financial institutions in the United States.

Brainard noted that the service is built with cloud technology, allowing the payment system to scale without sacrificing resiliency. This ability to scale applies to the system’s throughput as well as its geographic coverage, ensuring continuous service even in remote regions.

FedNow Payment Flow. Source: The Federal Reserve

FedNow is noteworthy within the crypto industry because it has been touted as an alternative to a central bank digital currency (CBDC). In particular, Federal Reserve Governor Michelle Bowman stated on August 17 that FedNow “addresses the issues that some have raised about the need for a CDBC.”

Brainard, meanwhile, has indicated that launching a CBDC would require congressional approval and take at least five years to design and implement. As such, FedNow will almost certainly precede the completion of any CBDC efforts in the U.S.

Disclosure: At the time of writing, the author of this feature owned ETH and several other cryptocurrencies.

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