instant payments Instant payments may soon become a game-changer in the competitive landscape for banks and credit unions. As more financial institutions (FIs) offer this convenience, marketing instant payments will require compelling strategies to stand out in a crowded market.

Focusing on speed will not be enough. Marketers will need to convey the value of instant payments in highly nuanced ways that resonate with different audience needs and use cases.

Why? Payment technologies are basically the same at every financial institution, but how an organization engages people can be a differentiating growth driver. Particularly for community banks and credit unions, instant payments could be the attractive ‘door-opener’ to acquire customers and members. Building relationships will depend on how well they position that opportunity for different audiences.

New challenges for marketing instant payments

Make no mistake, speed and convenience are top of mind for consumer and B2B audiences. But it can mean different things in different contexts. For example, up to a third of consumers have abandoned a financial transaction because money movement would take too long.But why? Was it just impatience, or were there other concerns that guided their decisions?

Understanding customer attitudes, motivators and use cases will become a fundamental need in order to stand out with real-time payments marketing. In this relatively new space, FIs can benefit more by taking a tailored, insights-driven approach to marketing narratives. Not only is it key to differentiate messaging, it reflects growing expectations for personalized engagement.

70% of consumers
think faster payments is an important factor in overall satisfaction with their banking provider2

Furthermore, this approach will need to span the challenges of both attracting new customers, and retaining existing ones. 70% of consumers think faster payments is an important factor in overall satisfaction with their bank.2 And many customers are willing to switch FIs to speed up how they send and receive money.

For example, 40% of individuals who live paycheck to paycheck are “extremely” likely to switch banking providers to access real-time payments.And nearly two-thirds of businesses would consider changing banks for faster payments.4

Companies are also voicing demand to streamline payment operations by embedding capabilities into business systems (e.g., A/P, A/R, claims payouts, etc.), and real-time payments may play an important role.

It’s a broad horizon for marketing instant payments. To compete more effectively, financial marketers need to think beyond the transactions to the customer’s Why.  What will it mean to different audiences to be able to solve payment needs in the moment? And what are the impacts across a diverse range of scenarios?

The more financial institutions can tailor marketing strategies and messaging to personalize the advantages of instant payments, the more their positioning can differentiate to help drive growth.

Marketing instant payments through a customer lens

Diving deep to understand customer perspectives for instant payments can give marketers more competitive edge. Clarifying value in the context for different audiences and use cases can be a crucial foundation to differentiate positioning and messaging.

Think of it as a top-of-the-funnel strategy. Real-time money movement can help solve a wide variety of problems, so what might that mean to different segments that marketers are trying to reach?

As an example, marketing might want to emphasize how instant payments improve cash flow. But that’s very general. To make it more relatable, say, for younger generations, content might highlight how millennials and Gen-Zers often struggle with student debt and other financial priorities. Real-time payments could relieve some stress with the ability to pay bills at the last minute, and instantly receive funds from payroll, P2P transfers, refunds or claims payouts.

Similarly, consider that managing working capital is a top concern for up to 75% of businesses.5 To attract or retain B2B audiences, marketers may want to focus on how increased agility to send and receive payments can make it easier to operate and thrive. Instant payments can also equip them with data-rich reporting to simplify reconciliation and improve decision-making.

Powering marketing ROI with customer experience tools

The ‘speed’ factor of instant payments may apply to any segment, but product positioning and messaging should go beyond one-size-fits-all. How can financial marketers develop more nuanced approaches?

Consider how strategic customer experience tools can help. For example:

  • Customer personas – Based on research (with customers, prospects, market trends), personas encapsulate what is known about the needs, attitudes, behaviors, and decision drivers of various customer segments. In this case, all in the context of instant payments, including scenarios where it transforms traditional payment interactions. For instance, with a used car purchase between two private parties, a real-time transfer provides a fast, secure and trusted way to seal the deal on the spot.
  • Journey maps – Identify touch points where real-time payments could occur, potential pain points to resolve or avoid, and where/when/how banking communications could enhance payment experiences. Take advantage of personas to better understand how the journey differs for different audiences, why it’s important, and how the business may need to address it.
  • Value proposition – Based on the data-driven personas and competitor research, define product positioning with a clearly articulated framework of core themes and key messages that highlight the value of instant payments to different customer segments. It’s important to develop relatable, believable messaging that will resonate with audiences and help the financial institution stand out.

    This framework is a valuable tool for several reasons. First, it aligns internal teams around a vision for how the organization is positioning instant payment solutions. And second, it helps ensure consistent messaging across an array of marketing channels. While content will vary somewhat for different uses, the goal is to keep everything closely aligned with the core concepts of the value prop.

Putting customer focus into action with Beyond the Arc

As more financial institutions adopt instant payments, the pressure is heating up to tell a differentiating story. Tailoring approaches with nuanced, customer-focused perspectives is key — and yet it can be challenging when organizations are immersed in other priorities.

That’s where an outside partner – that really knows banking and payments – can add tremendous value.

At Beyond the Arc, we’ve worked with Top 5 banks, community banks and fintechs. We collaborate closely as an extension of your marketing team to help you make more impact, quickly. With strategy consulting and hands-on creative services, we can support you from product positioning, to content strategy and crafting compelling, differentiating content for your marketing channels and sales team.


1,4,5     FedNow and the Future of Instant Payments, The Financial Brand

2         Federal Reserve survey: Consumers demanding faster payment options, Federal Reserve

3        How Consumers Are Driving Demand for Real-Time Payments,

Image source: AI generated with DALL-E (with edits)