Prime time for real time: The ones to watch in 2022

May 11, 2022 | By George Evers
There are now more than 66 markets globally that have modernized their economies with real-time payments. A new report from Mastercard partner ACI Worldwide shows who's leading the way.
A woman uses a smartphone at a train platform

It has been proven in economies from the United Kingdom to Singapore that real-time payment systems offer a foundation for economies to become more dynamic. With mass smartphone penetration and the digitization of everything, consumers, businesses and governments are benefiting from being able to make faster, safer and more convenient payments using any device or no device at all.

There are now more than 66 markets globally that have modernized their economies with real-time payments, two thirds of which use ISO 20022 standards for richer and more structured transfer of payment and related data. The 2022 Prime Time for Real-Time Global Payments Report from Mastercard’s partner, ACI Worldwide highlights markets that are leading the way (and how they’re doing it) and quantifies the economic impact of real-time payments for 30 countries.

66 markets
live with real-time payments

The report finds that India is still showing the rest of the world how it's done. Astronomical growth in volumes continue to outperform forecasters' best efforts and expectations for future growth have been revised upwards. UPI is now the center of an embedded finance ecosystem beyond banking and finance, creating a flywheel effect for innovations that compound its utility.

But what of the systems that are only just coming online? Here are four markets to watch in 2022.


Indonesia’s BI-Fast real-time payment scheme is due to launch in 2022, marking an important development for the nation’s population of 270 million people, businesses and banks.

The market is forecast to keep rising through the ranks to become the world's fourth largest economy by GDP in the next two decades. It’s growing quickly alongside Thailand, which vaulted into the top 25 global economies for the first time in 2020 following the introduction of its real-time payment system, PromptPay.

Indonesia, Thailand and other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations continue to explore ways to connect their retail payment systems to improve the speed, security and efficiency of sending and receiving money across borders.

This will give rise to a new generation of payments hubs, built from a collection of best-in-class services rather than monolithic applications. That will bring to the fore vendors with an ecosystem of technologies that can be assembled to service today's requirements and reconfigured in response to whatever tomorrow brings.

Saudi Arabia

Since launching in 2020, real-time payment volumes in Saudi Arabia has already grown to 5.9 percent of electronic payments by volume and further growth is expected — the government has mandated 70 percent of all payments be digital by 2030.

Advances in technology, especially cloud hosting, and evolving customer expectations are pushing the region ever closer to a period of transformational growth. Unencumbered by the types of legacy technology more mature markets are contending with, banks are freer to focus on innovation and differentiation. Dovetailing with the dawn of open banking (the Saudi Central Bank’s open banking framework is expected to go live in 2022), the region's financial institutions are poised to lead the world in ‘payments as a service’ innovation.

United States

Pilots of the Federal Reserve’s FedNow system will accelerate in 2022 ahead of expected launch in 2023, which will bring ubiquitous account-to-account transfers and QR code payments to a previously fragmented payment market.

The United States’ first real-time payment service, the RTP Network® from The Clearing House and powered by Mastercard launched in 2017, bringing ISO 20022 messaging capabilities including ‘request to pay’ (or ‘request for payment’) to connected U.S. banks, billers and government agencies.

Real-time business payments are yet to take off. Between corporates' comfort with high-touch real-time gross settlement services and the relatively high margins for banks, B2B real-time payments continue to grow only slowly. But the business case for real-time payments is as much about staying relevant as it is driving revenue. U.S. financial institutions are quickly waking up to the opportunity.

When Canada’s Real Time Rail launches next year to accelerate its digital economy, the continent will be primed for greater economic integration. In anticipation, financial institutions in both markets are showing refreshed interest in payments hubs – specifically those enabled by cloud technology and managed payments services — to maximize their revenues, protect their margins and get to market faster and more cost-effectively with new and differentiated digital payment solutions.



An exceptionally strong start saw the PIX system pass one billion transactions within months, and this momentum is being maintained with a steady stream of new use cases, such as ‘request to pay’, cash withdrawals from participating retailers, and cross-border functions.

The Brazilian market is proving especially fertile ground for fintechs, and newer players are making their mark. Last year, WhatsApp introduced a real-time payments powered by Mastercard Send™, making sending money between people and small businesses as simple as sending a message.

The market is now entering the next phase of growth: providing additional, data-driven services on top of payments, enabled by richer data standards. Incumbents must identify the role they expect to play in the new real-time and open economy by understanding how they will differentiate themselves beyond payments enablement.

"Incumbents must identify the role they expect to play in the new real-time and open economy by understanding how they will differentiate themselves beyond payments enablement."

For markets that are just setting out on their journeys to payment system modernization, we’ve developed a new series of insights consisting of best practice, information and examples to help payment system operators and service providers to plan their route.

Mastercard and partners such as ACI Worldwide have the scale, expertize and flexibility to provide customers with credible paths to deliver transformation without compromise right across the payments landscape.


George Evers, senior vice president, real-time payments, Mastercard