Instant Payments and Merchants — Pricing Policy Considerations

Why does pricing policy for instant merchant payments look so different than the models that allowed card systems to scale over the past seventy years? What approaches are working, and which aren’t?

This technical note attempts to answer these questions, providing advice for the instant payment scheme or regulator hoping to scale merchant transactions. It also helps assess the impact of instant payments on market development, and offers suggestions for the path forward.


  • When it comes to instant payments, schemes and regulators are increasingly using pricing intervention as a market-building tool.
  • For schemes/regulators looking to help scale instant merchant payments, leaving out fee-sharing and letting competitive markets determine pricing is likely the best solution, in certain contexts.
  • Tools beyond pricing intervention, such as subsidies and incentives, and enablers, such as tiered due diligence and digital onboarding, should also be considered in promoting low-cost transactions.

About this Publication

By William Cook, Dylan Lennox & Souraya Sbeih