Solving puzzles is one of my favorite hobbies. In fact, we had an office party a few months back and one of the activities that we had available to us was a puzzle of our fellow colleagues. I spent over half the day working on that puzzle, completely distracted and in my own world. I really enjoy the repetitive motions of sorting the puzzle pieces out — edge pieces separate from the center pieces, of course — and then watching the entire puzzle slowly come together. However, one of my least favorite parts of a puzzle is finishing the puzzle only to realize I’m missing a piece. It’s frustrating when you intend to do something only to find out that you didn’t have all the necessary pieces or information to begin with. I sometimes see that same frustration in credit unions as well when I speak with them about the FedNow® Service.
There are quite a few different moving pieces when it comes to this new instant payment rail, but as I assure all of the credit unions I speak with about the FedNow Service, Vizo Financial and MY CU Services are more than prepared to help walk you through the onboarding and implementation process.
In case you haven’t heard, in June of 2023, Vizo Financial completed the certification requirements and testing for the settlement of instant payments via the FedNow Service, so we were ready to go when the FedNow Service launched in July 2023. (You can read more about this in our press release, which can be found on our website.) Vizo Financial and MY CU Services also have the ability to provide receive capabilities through our payments service provider. Additionally, we are also preparing to offer send capabilities in the near future as well. It’s an exciting time in the payments arena, and while there are so many benefits surrounding the FedNow Service, there are also a few vital pieces of the puzzle that many credit unions may not know about or have considered. Some of the puzzle pieces overlooked can include the onboarding process, profile management and educational resources/regulatory considerations.
Onboarding for the FedNow Service
From start to finish, onboarding for the FedNow Service through Vizo Financial and MY CU Services takes about 12 weeks, assuming that all parties involved are responsive and timely. One of the first parts of the onboarding process starts with Vizo Financial and MY CU Services. We will provide your credit union with questionnaires as well as provide you the option to set up a subaccount at the Corporate for your instant payments settlements.
Once the onboarding process with Vizo Financial and MY CU Services is initiated, the next step is to initiate onboarding with our payments provider. This process begins with setting up the connection with your credit union’s core so that the instant payments can be posted instantaneously.
Next, on behalf of the credit union, Vizo Financial and MY CU Services will initiate the onboarding process with the Federal Reserve. The credit union’s relationship manager at the Federal Reserve will then reach out to the credit union to ask the credit union questions, like:
- Did the credit union select Vizo Financial as their service provider for the FedNow Service?
- Does the credit union have a signed agreement for the FedNow Service with their service provider?
- What connectivity profiles has the credit union selected? Will the credit union be receiving and/or sending?
After the credit union answers these questions, they’ll be asked to sign a few select FED forms and attestations from the Federal Reserve. For credit unions who will manage their own FedNow Participant Profile within Fedline, — something I’ll touch more on later — there will be the need to give End User Authorization Contact (EUAC) access in Fedline Advantage (FLA) to those credit union staff members who will work with the FedNow Service. Within Fedline, there is a test and production environment that can be available to those staff members with access. Those at the credit union with EUAC access in Fedline will also need FedNow permissions as well, for either test or production, respectively.
The onboarding process ends the same way it began — with Vizo Financial and MY CU Services. We’ll test and validate that the transactions/processes work. And finally, we’ll set up the production settings and help your credit union go live on the FedNow Service.
Profile Management for the FedNow Service
The second piece, and potentially the main piece, that credit unions are unaware of when they inquire about the FedNow Service is that they’ll need profile management. This surprising revelation comes with even more pieces that credit unions don’t know about. For example, many credit unions don’t know that they need Fedline Advantage access or higher with the Federal Reserve to be able to even manage their own FedNow Participant Profile. Before I scare you off though, this is not a necessity, as there are other avenues that credit unions can take when it comes to profile management.
Vizo Financial’s Instant Payments Profile Management Service
Vizo Financial — and other service providers — can offer profile management as a service. Just like it sounds, the Instant Payments Profile Management service assists credit unions with the management of their FedNow Participant Profile. This service includes credit transfer limit changes completed by MY CU Services on behalf of a participant credit union that is utilizing Instant Payment services via the FedNow Service.
One benefit of using Vizo Financial’s profile management service is that your credit union will not be required to purchase FLA access or higher from the Federal Reserve. This saves your credit union from having to pay monthly costs, which may hurt your bottom line, as this cost can be too high for some credit unions. In addition, your credit union will not be required to add subscribers with EUAC access via Fedline Advantage, which is good for credit unions who are worried about potential risk concerns.
Managing Your Credit Union’s Instant Payments Profile
Credit unions that want to manage their FedNow Participant Profile can as long as they have EUAC access in Fedline Advantage or higher. This is the main requirement for credit unions who want to manage their own profile, and typically, you’ll receive a token for this type of access. Credit unions that do manage their own profile can edit their own credit transfer limits, as well as manage their own Participant Negative List, which is currently something that Vizo Financial and MY CU Services does not offer when we manage a credit union’s FedNow Participant Profile. I would like to mention that there are credit unions that have Fedline Web access; however, this access level is not compatible for managing the credit union’s FedNow Participant Profile. Your credit union needs Fedline Advantage or higher access. If your credit union needs to know your level of Fedline access or would like to research the costs associated with FLA or higher access, please reach out to your relationship manager at the Federal Reserve for guidance.
If credit unions don’t want to manage their own profile nor do they want Vizo Financial to manage their profile, they can opt to employ a third-party vendor to manage their instant payments profile. However, with this, the credit union could be subjected to costs, contracts and other requirements, so it is important to ask and be aware of these factors when determining how to proceed with profile management.
Educational Resources and Regulatory Considerations Available for Instant Payments
The final piece, and arguably the most important piece, of the FedNow Service puzzle is education. The FedNow Service was launched in July 2023 — less than 6 months ago —which means that there is a lot of learning to be done on all sides. We’ve combined a list of educational resources that your credit union can utilize to familiarize yourself with the FedNow Service and any updates. These resources include but are not limited to:
· Federal Reserve Bank Operating Circular No. 8 (Regulatory Consideration)
· FedNow Operating Procedures
· FedNow Education
· FedNow Explorer Website
· FedNow News
· Regulation J, Subpart C – (Regulatory Consideration)
· Regulation E – (Regulatory Consideration)
· US Faster Payments Council Website (Use Cases)
· Vizo Financial Website
When it comes to something as novel and intricate as the FedNow Service, it’s important to have all the pieces of the puzzle upfront. Vizo Financial and MY CU Services can help make sure that’s possible for your credit union. We’re available to answer all your questions and provide you with the information you need to make the best decision on whether or not the FedNow Service is right for your credit union and your members. From questions about onboarding to profile management and education to regulatory consideration, we’re here to be your guide through your instant payments journey.
If you’re ready to start the FedNow Service “puzzle” at your institution, please contact a MY CU Services Sales Representative at firstname.lastname@example.org or reach out to your corporate account manager at email@example.com.
Andi Crockett is the product manager of EFT at Vizo Financial. Her role involves developing and implementing EFT services — including ACH for Business, ACH Contingency, ACH Receipt and Returns, ACH Originations, ACH Settlement, Domestic and International Wires and Foreign Check Collection — for credit unions. She also participates in planning efforts for business development, works with members and clients to manage implementation expectations and manages relationships with vendors. Andi is also an active member of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Champions team at Vizo Financial.