IN SEVERAL countries—Britain, say, or Sweden—bank transfers are more or less instant. The moment your wages leave your employer’s bank account, they arrive on your own, giving you the wherewithal to pay the bills and feed the family. But America is far behind.
Transfers can take days to clear, landing many Americans—chiefly those who can least afford additional expense—with hefty overdraft fees or pushing them towards payday lenders charging high-interest rates. In an age when millennials can split a drinks tab on their smartphones before leaving the bar, this almost beggars belief.
The Federal Reserve wants to speed things up. On August 5th it said that it would build a faster-payments system, as central banks have in other countries. But not, alas, instantly. FedNow, its proposed service, will not start before 2023. Covering all of America’s 10,000 banks and other depository institutions will take even longer.