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Promoting Safer Payments Innovation

digital mobile phone security

Promoting safer payments innovation is one of the Atlanta Fed’s high-priority initiatives. We're actively engaging with financial technology firms to help them develop efficient, secure, and affordable payment services.

  • Our Role

    The Atlanta Fed plays several key roles in the payments industry, including operator, supervisor, and researcher. Our district is also a major hub for domestic payments—approximately 70 percent of U.S. payments flow through Atlanta, earning the metro area the nickname of "Transaction Alley."

    Roles the Atlanta Fed plays in payments include:

    • Operator. Under Federal Reserve Financial Services, the Retail Payments Office is a payments network operator offering payments products and services to financial institutions and providing thought leadership to the industry.
    • Supervisor. In addition to conducting exams of bank holding companies and domestic and international banks, we supervise technology service providers.
    • Convener and researcher. We are exploring payments systems design and risks in technological innovation and bringing people together to share, educate, and collaborate.

  • Payments Inclusion

    In a September 2020 paper, the Atlanta Fed looks at how the growth of digital payments benefits many businesses and consumers but can also shut out many households who are among the least economically mobile and resilient. This growth has led to an increasing number of businesses going cashless or adopting restrictive payment acceptance processes, practices that effectively exclude cash-based consumers, a population already marginally attached to the economy.

    Work to increase financial inclusion have generally focused on bringing people without bank accounts or with limited access to financial services into the traditional financial system. The Atlanta Fed paper points out that the share of consumers who lack credit or debit cards is actually larger than the share of those who are unbanked, so proposes that focusing efforts on ensuring equitable access to new, more convenient payments services—without discouraging innovation—can increase financial inclusion.

    What are the most important efforts we should pursue to ensure inclusion of this disconnected population? To identify those efforts and do the work, the Atlanta Fed has formed a special multidisciplinary committee made up of experts in the fields of payments and financial inclusion. View the charter of the Special Committee on Payments Inclusion.

    The Special Committee on Payments Inclusion

    The Committee, together with the Atlanta Fed, aims to play a pivotal role in supporting safe and inclusive payments innovation that advances economic mobility and resilience in the Sixth District and beyond. The Committee will work to advance ubiquitous access to safe, efficient, and inclusive payments for all.

    To accomplish its goals, the Committee will commission its members to conduct research on emerging issues in payments inclusion, collect and analyze data to better understand trends in the evolving payments industry, and make recommendations to the industry or policymakers based on research findings.

    The Committee will be active for two years. At the end of this term, Committee members and the Atlanta Fed will determine if there is additional work to pursue and may decide to extend the Committee's work.

    Committee Members

    • David Benck, senior vice president and general counsel, Hibbett Sports
    • Sudheer Chava, Alton M. Costley chair and professor of finance, Georgia Institute of Technology
    • Matt Cochran, Senior Director of External Communications, Global Payments
    • Andrea Donkor, vice president, regulatory relations, PayPal
    • Timothy Flacke, cofounder and executive director, Commonwealth
    • John Garratt, executive vice president and chief financial officer, Dollar General
    • Mark Pearce, director of the Division of Depositor and Consumer Protection, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
    • Bruce Renard, executive director, The National ATM Council Inc.
    • Courtney Robinson, head of financial inclusion and public policy development, Square Inc.
    • Bob Skiba, executive vice president, InComm Payments
    • John M. Turner Jr., chief executive officer and president, Regions Bank
    • Silvanus J. Udoka, dean of the School of Business Administration, Clark Atlanta University
    • Brian K. Williams, president, First Farmers and Merchants Bank in Columbia, Tennessee

  • Payments Integrity

    New payment types such as digital currencies and instant payments require new approaches to ensure the safe delivery of payments to the intended recipients.

    Academic institutions, on the forefront of technology, are adept at quickly addressing real-world opportunities through research and innovation. The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta will partner with academic institutions to work on promoting payments integrity. We will share data and ideas that result from these partnerships with the payments industry to influence new solutions and processes.

    Georgia State University

    Payment innovations such as digital wallets, mobile payments, and person-to-person payment apps offer convenience, but they also expose users to new types of fraud. Bad actors can steal users' social security numbers, addresses, authentication credentials, and account details and sell them in markets hosted on encrypted web channels. This identity fraud causes harm that reaches across the financial system and broader economy.

    The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta and Georgia State University's Evidence-Based Cybersecurity Research Group are collaborating to find solutions to address online payments-related financial fraud.

    • Using a strategy identified by the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, the research group is surveilling the dark web and encrypted web channels to better understand the implications of online criminal payments-related activity. The two teams will analyze their findings and share them within the Federal Reserve System and with the payments industry to promote safer, more efficient payment solutions and practices.
    • The research group is also working to identify how the introduction of central bank digital currencies (CBDC) will affect online criminal markets in other countries. CBDC is a general term for a version of currency that may use an electronic record or digital token to represent the digital form of a nation’s currency.
  • Outreach

    The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta is committed to sharing knowledge and encourages an open dialogue through a variety of channels. Channels can include conferences, forums, webinars, and podcasts. We also write research papers and articles.

    Audiences that we frequently engage with are:

    • Fintechs and payments providers
    • Depository and financial Institutions
    • Third-party processors and technology service providers
    • Consumers
    • Trade groups
    • Regulators
    • Local and state government agencies
    • Universities

    Atlanta Fed events are typically open to these audiences. We will post event details here and on the Atlanta Fed News and Events page.

    Atlanta Fed cohosts webinars

    Financial inclusion is of central importance to countries across the globe, and fintechs offer great promise. On May 20, 2021, the Atlanta Fed's Americas Center and the Consulate of Brazil cohosted the Financial Inclusion and Open Banking webinar. Panelists explored how fintech and open banking are shaping financial services in the United States and Brazil and holding out the hope that innovative, technology-based financial institutions can offer financial services to the historically unbanked and underbanked. Watch the video.

    On May 18, 2022, the Atlanta Fed's Americas Center and the Brazilian-American Chamber of Commerce cohosted a webinar called "The Risks and Rewards of Real-Time Payments: The Brazilian Experience." Panelists explored lessons the United States can learn from the Brazil experience with implementing real-time payments. Watch the video.

    Economy Matters Payments Series Podcasts
    Each quarter, we will explore hot topics in payments innovation as they relate to payments inclusion, payments integrity, banking and regulation.

  • Publications

    2021 Annual Report
    Review our audited financial statement, directors and officers, congressional report, and more.
    Atlanta Fed Considers Ways to Expand Inclusion in Payments System
    Burgeoning technologies and societal changes have increased the importance of participation in the payments system. This Economy Matters article looks at ways the Atlanta Fed hopes to foster greater overall participation.
    Digital Currency, Digital Payments, and the 'Last Mile' to the Unbanked
    Digital Currency, Digital Payments, and the 'Last Mile' to the Unbanked
    Using digital forms of payment requires funding from a source of money, such as cash or a bank account. Consequently, the unbanked population lacks access to digital payments—the so-called "last-mile" problem. This Policy Hub article examines some proposed solutions to this problem.
    2020 Annual Report: Looking Back at a Tumultuous Year
    In 2020, the nation and Fed dealt with several interrelated challenges: a global pandemic, a steep economic downturn, and racial turmoil. Atlanta Fed president Raphael Bostic reflects on the year gone by and looks ahead with optimism.
    photograph of a bitcoin coin laid on top of a one-hundred dollar bill overlaid by binary digits
    Digital Payments and the Path to Financial Inclusion
    Payments innovations offer convenience, but they can also exclude some people from our financial system. A new paper from the Atlanta Fed suggests that, to increase financial inclusion, a more effective approach than focusing on helping the underbanked become banked could be giving cash users access to digital payment vehicles that don’t depend on traditional bank accounts.
    As Fintech Transforms Payments, the Atlanta Fed Seeks to Guide Innovation
    Last year, the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta launched a multipronged strategic priority aimed at helping to balance innovation and safety in the payments industry. Explore our 2019 annual report, which looks at how fintech has changed the landscape of payments and how the Atlanta Fed seeks to help guide that innovation.
    Federico Mandelman, a Research Economist and Associate Adviser in the Research department of the Atlanta Fed, during the recording of a podcast episode
    "You Can Build the Infrastructure from Zero": A Conversation about Digital Adoption in Emerging Economies
    Much has been written about the digital revolution's impact on developed economies, but what about developing and emerging economies? The Economy Matters podcast features an Atlanta Fed economist who discusses his research into the question. podcast
    illustration of a dollar sign symbol overlaid with a circuit board from a computer
    Atlanta Fed Holds "Office Hours" Session
    The Atlanta Fed considers encouraging safe payments innovation to be one of its top strategic priorities. Read about a recent Atlanta Fed event where fintechs met with experts from the Atlanta Fed and the Board of Governors to discuss payments security, regulation, financial inclusion, and other matters.
    FraudClassifier model addresses inconsistent fraud classification
    The new FraudClassifierSM model enables payments stakeholders to classify fraud in a simple and consistent manner. For organizations, the key advantage of the model is the ability to classify fraud regardless of payment type, payment channel, or other payment characteristics.
    Delivering Benefits of Faster Payments to the Underserved
    Learn how faster payments could help cash-strapped consumers mitigate misalignments between the time that incoming funds are received and the time that payments need to occur.
  • Engage With Us

    To help support responsible innovation, staff routinely communicate with banks, technology firms, and other stakeholders. If you are interested in discussing topics on financial innovation and technology, please complete the form and briefly describe your request. Be aware that we do not respond to commercial solicitations.

    We look forward to hearing from you.

    Doris Quiros
    Senior Vice President

    Richard Jones
    Senior Vice President, General Counsel, Legal

    Nell Campbell-Drake
    Retail Payments Office

    Cheryl Venable
    Executive Vice President, Retail Payments Office

    Chris Colson
    Retail Payments Office

    Ana Cavazos

    Jessica Dill

    Scarlett Heinbuch
    Retail Payments Risk Forum

    John Pelick
    Supervision, Regulation, and Credit

    Lali Shaffer
    Supervision, Regulation, and Credit

    Jessica Washington
    Retail Payments Risk Forum