re: Could Banks Hold Back Faster Payments in the U.S.?
To clarify, the UK didn't truly rip and replace. Whilst undoubtedly new work was required (I worked on the programme), equally it leverages both the existing ATM network and the ACH infrastructure.
The US faces a bigger challenge because of size obviously, but equally the ACH network*s* are starting far further back in terms of features and functionality. The analogy is perhaps the dilemma the fixed-line telco industry faces. It faces increasing competition - mobile, cable companies, etc, yet is seen as utility and unsexy. It has the choice of tweaking the copper it has laid decades ago to eek out more bandwidth, or it can start laying fibre at huge cost, and look to the future. Over a 10-20 year period, cost aside, the answer is obvious. But signing off the bill today, and figuring who pays is very different.
So the current ACH system maybe old but is fit for purpose; equally, on a global basis, it's score card is probably D-, and sliding backwards on an almost daily basis. Many of the complaints we hear about ACH in the US are actually unique to the US because of the system. Perhaps a rip & replace would not only achieve real-time, but also fix the broader issues too.