Learning about RTP®

conversations on instant payments logo

We need your input! Learn more about what we’re doing and lend your voice to our efforts by joining the Conversations on Instant Payments group!

The Research Project

Starting in the fall of 2022, CU*Answers began studying the evolving world of payment processing, specifically the RTP® Network (The ClearingHouse) and FedNow®  (Federal Reserve) programs, and third-party partners who may be able to help us hook into these systems in order to receive funds for our credit unions on behalf of their members. Our goal was to understand the scope of potential projects, who we could partner with to connect, technical details about how the process works, and potential implications for fraud management.

Also see the FedNow® Kitchen recipe for details on that separate project.

Remember that these are payment options in addition to regular ACH.  Whatever we do with these new payment channels will have no effect on our current ACH processes and functionality.

What We’ve Learned

In September and October we met with representatives from both Corp One and Vizo to get a brain dump on what they know about both FedNow® and RTP® and what their respective organizations have been doing. Based on these early conversations it’s clear that the RTP rail (via The ClearingHouse) is further along the path where we could start looking at an actual development project.

Some key takeaways from our conversations:

  • These aren’t just faster ACH – there’s a completely separate payment rail, not connected to ACH at all.
  • The front-end user experience is different from the rails:
    • The front-end is where the instructions are entered by the business or consumer, the rail is the back end that actually moves the money.
    • A CU must be a participant on a rail in order for the front-end experience to be able to use that rail on behalf of the CU’s members.
    • The front-end experience might actually use multiple rails. For example, Zelle, PayPal, Venmo and the like are just front-end apps that allow payments to be made via various rails, including RTP – but using those does not put a CU on the RTP rail.  However, once the CU is on the rail for receiving payments, members will be able to choose their credit union account when using those apps to request money to be deposited money into their credit union accounts.
  • RTP is a credit-push model only – can only send credits (no pulling money from someone’s account).
    • RTP requires a core-to-core connection (one FI to another FI) so money can be sent from one consumer to another, or from one business to another business or consumer.
    • Similar to a wire, payment is final, instantly settled and confirmed – once the money is sent, it’s gone.
  • There are three transaction types: Receive, Send, and Request a Payment.
    • A Receive does not require the FI to build a front-end experience, nor is there any pre-funding requirement (the CU doesn’t need to set up an FRB NY account).
    • CUs must be able to receive up to $1 million in a single transaction.  If the account number in the deposit is not valid, a message is sent back to the sender and the transaction is cancelled; the CU doesn’t have to do anything.

Read an overview of instant payments and the differences between the RTP and FedNow networks.

Find all of the RTP® network’s security requirements, risk management specifications, fraud control requirements, compliance criteria, and more at The Clearing House.

The Projects

#1: RTP Receive

Our first project will be hooking up a solution for RTP, starting on the Receive side, so CUs can receive payments via RTP on their members’ behalf. We are working with Corporate One and their solution to start.

Status as of February 2024: We’re officially live on the RTP rail!  Since the official launch in December, there are now a total of 11 credit unions live on the RTP rail and receiving transactions, with another 25 CUs in the queue. As of January 31, 4,615 deposit transactions had been successfully received!

Sign up to get in the queue!

Open the project update to the Board of Directors (Jan 2023)

#2: RTP Send and Request a Payment

When it comes to the Send and Request a Payment sides, we are still in the very early study phases. This will likely require us to build a new front-end experience, from the ground up, including all of the rules to govern how payments can be sent. What we are asking CUs to do now is think about what they would want those rules to be. Remember – once the money is sent, you can’t get it back. What is your risk tolerance and what controls would you want in place?

On January 22nd we held the first event in our new Conversations on Instant Payments group, covering Rules for RTP® Send. Over 70 CU participants joined the conversation and we got some excellent feedback we’ll use as we begin writing the spec for the Send tools we’ll build.  

Open the Jan 22nd presentation, annotated with your feedback

Open the research summary with an overview of project components

IMPORTANT:  Don’t wait! Your credit unions will need to be on both payment rails!  There is no interoperability between these independent payment systems, and members will not be able to pick and choose: if the payment app they are trying to use is on FedNow and your CU is only on the RTP rail (or vice versa), members won’t be able to send an instant payment using that tool! 


View answers to the top FAQs about RTP

If my members aren’t asking for RTP yet, how do I know the time is right to offer it?

What’s the big difference between members receiving an RTP payment and another payment such as an ACH payment into their account?

Do I need to be an ODFI in order to hook into the RTP payment rail?

Can I use another corporate credit union as my funding agent, even though I’m hooked to the rail via Corporate One?

Will I see these transactions on my ACH exception reports?



Chefs for this recipe: Dawn Moore, Keegan Daniel, Jim Vilker, Jeff Miller

March 19, 2024

13 Responses to “Learning about RTP®”

  1. Isabel Navarro

    Very interested in implementing this feature. Please keep me posted on any and all updates.

  2. Chris Nunnally

    Very interested in FedNow/RTP instant payments for our membership. The technology fits with our mobile first/branch in your pocket strategy. Would like to be part of the conversation.

  3. Kaci Kamaloski

    If I’m reading this right, we could possibly stay with the FRB for ACH but enroll in the Clearing House’s RTP platform since the payment rails separate?

    • Dawn Moore

      FedNow and ACH are two completely separate things, two separate rails. Here’s a graphic about the payment rails that might help: https://www.cuanswers.com/wp-content/uploads/USPaymentRails.png. ACH isn’t going anywhere and will not be affected in any way by the implementation of FedNow.

      You could certainly decide not to jump on the FedNow rail if you wish, but honestly I think over time every CU will want to be on every one of the rails (ACH, debit/credit, RTP, and FedNow), at least eventually. We’re just starting with the one we think is closest, RTP via The ClearingHouse, but will move on to FedNow when it’s ready for us to do so.

  4. Bev Vander Well

    Alloya also has a FedNow solution. Any thought to including Alloya and The ClearingHouse?

    • Dawn Moore

      We will be looking at several different paths to get to FedNow, yes, thanks for the tip! The ClearingHouse is RTP, not FedNow, and we are working with them (indirectly) for the RTP solution via Corp One.

  5. Kris Rockwell

    Alloya is working hard on the FedNow project. They advise getting on the map with Fednow Receive first. Would you all be able to support this as a Core?

    • Dawn Moore

      As stated above, we are focused now on RTP Receive but have already started conversations with the Fed about hooking to them directly for FedNow. Will likely start on the Receive side there as well. Many corporate credit unions have been marketing their plans but our understanding is that a credit union would need to have a much deeper relationship with a corporate CU in order to use FedNow. While we will likely partner with specific corporate credit unions at some point, we are focused now on direct to the Fed so that all clients can participate in the same way, regardless of their existing corporate credit union relationships.


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