Our strategic approach to the FedNowSM Service ISO® 20022 message specifications

February 24, 2021

The new year is off to a fast start for the FedNow Service. We recently announced the 120+ strong pilot participant roster and a narrowed timeframe — now 2023 — for our industrywide service launch. Next on the horizon is the publication of the ISO 20022 message specifications for the FedNow Service. These specifications will define the message flows and formats that FedNow users and service providers will need to support at the initial service launch. As we move closer to the March publication date, we want to share the planning process behind the specifications to give you a sense of what to expect when we release them.

The Federal Reserve’s approach

Our work to develop the FedNow Service message specifications began with our early commitment to staying true to the ISO 20022 standard. We recognized the broad industry migration to this standard would serve as the foundation for routing interoperability, end-to-end efficiency of payments and future innovation. Extensive industry engagement over the past nine months has affirmed this direction. Stakeholders have noted the benefits of aligning to global practices and planned domestic wire transfer implementations of this standard.

Staying true to this standard will create a strong foundation for future growth and innovation around the FedNow Service. It will allow financial institutions to leverage their initial investment in technology built on the ISO standard. Over the long run, this should lead to greater cost savings while minimizing the challenges bringing new products to market for payments system participants.

The Federal Reserve remains committed to advancing the goal of interoperability for instant payments. Together with FIs, service providers and service operators, we are working to move the industry forward. Collectively, we are leveraging the ISO 20022 standard to support greater end-to-end efficiency and remove barriers to routing interoperability for FIs that choose to use both the FedNow Service and The Clearing House’s RTP® network.

Industry collaboration

Over the past nine months, we have engaged our FedNow ISO 20022 Working Group in reviewing and refining message specifications. The Working Group reflected a broad representation of industry stakeholders: small, mid-sized and large FIs, including several RTP network participants, as well as processors, aggregators and service providers. The draft specs also reflect feedback provided by interested FedNow Community participants. To further inform development, we analyzed various “lessons learned” gleaned from payment systems outside the U.S. that have already implemented the standard for instant payments.

In parallel, working sessions with The Clearing House have been critical for refining the specifications to enhance compatibility of RTP and FedNow Service message standards and implementation guidance. Combined with user insights, these discussions provided valuable perspectives on interoperability.

Coming soon...

Over the next several weeks, we will finalize our message specifications as well as the ISO 20022 customer reference guide and rulebook. These will all be available on a web platform in March. We are eager to share the FedNow Service ISO 20022 specifications with the payments community to support your important operational preparations and product development efforts.


“ISO” is a registered service mark of the International Organization for Standardization.

“RTP” is a registered trademark of The Clearing House Payments Company LLC.

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