New Fiserv service simplifies non-point of sale payments

Brookfield-based Fiserv Inc. recently introduced a new method of simplifying any payment that isn’t at the point of sale.

The goal of the service, known as the NOW Network, is to update some of the slower, more archaic and paper-based payments that consumers make every day, said Rahul Gupta, president of the digital solutions group at Fiserv.

Fiserv specializes in payment technology for financial institutions, and currently offers several individual products, like person-to-person electronic payments, money transfer and automatic bill pay. The NOW Network would combine all of these technologies into an integrated payment system, Gupta said.

“Because we already have those technologies in the market today, we will integrate those three technologies and integrate them with the NOW Network,” he said. “Pieces of this are available as we speak.”

With the development of this network, Fiserv is targeting the 55 billion transactions that occur annually, both paper and electronic, that are not at the point of sale. The existing model is fragmented, said Fiserv chief executive officer Jeffrey Yabuki in his announcement of the product.

“These payments tend to be slower, and are often paper-based, which means they don’t always deliver the speed and convenience expected or desired,” Yabuki said. “In addition, the payment experience is fragmented, with multiple solutions and providers forming and sometimes disintermediating the payments value chain for consumers and financial institutions. Payments beyond the point of sale are one of the last frontiers of money movement evolution. It’s time to make these payments fast, easy and smart.”

The NOW Network is meant to be used for transactions such as paying bills, splitting and sending a rent payment, splitting a bill at dinner, and other day-to-day consumer transactions that link people, businesses and governments.

“The 55 billion other transactions, you’re not buying something in a store or on e-commerce,” Gupta said. “You’re in fact consuming a service, or you’ve consumed a service in the past, and you’re paying a bill or you owe someone money and you want to pay them. All of this is slow.”

For example, users can take a photo of a group of friends at dinner and the network will identify each person through face recognition and send him an electronic payment request for splitting the bill.

If roommates want to split the rent, it can be done electronically through their bank accounts, and then sent electronically to the landlord.

The NOW Network will also offer new features. It will prompt the user if he or she has a bill due, or if there are insufficient funds to make an automatic bill payment.

Fiserv plans to roll out the NOW Network through its financial institution customers, so it will be accessible to a large percentage of consumers.

“Banks are in the business of signing up consumers for these kinds of services,” Gupta said. “If you send me money, you’re on one side of the network and I’m on the other. Because we sell to thousands and thousands of banks, we can make those connections happen.”

Consumers will have to enroll in the NOW Network to make or receive payments.

The service is expected to be a revenue driver and transaction simplifier for banks, Gupta said.

“The main value proposition is more transactions and more engaged consumers,” he said. “It also does simplify their life because they don’t have to ship out checks and cash to the payee or they don’t have to say to the consumer, ‘Yeah, we can do that but it will take you three days.’”

The NOW Network aims to make payments more instantaneous and decrease the amount of holds placed on funds through real-time money movement and the elimination of redundant back-end systems, according to Yabuki.

“We believe that when people, their money, and those they pay are all connected, the payments experience becomes profoundly simple – consumers should only need to know who, how much, and at what speed they want the money to move,” Yabuki said.

While the NOW Network is similar to personal payment behemoth PayPal, Gupta said it is a more convenient setup because it is coming directly from the consumer’s account and has added features.

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