2018 Excellence Award Finalist - Steve Ledford
How has the nominee contributed to the advancement of the payments industry?
For more than 30 years in leadership roles at Novantas, McKinsey, Global Concepts and The Clearing House, Steve Ledford has advised organizations on how best to manage their payments businesses and drive product innovation to benefit their customers. His work spans strategy, product development, IT and infrastructure planning, operations and new systems deployment.
While these technical credentials are among the best in the business, the attributes that set Ledford apart are his inclusive approach, positive outlook and infectious enthusiasm for what’s next.
What’s next right now is real-time payments. It represents the most sweeping advancement in the payments industry in more than 40 years. Making real-time payments a reality clearly required the leadership and efforts of many organization and individuals, but the industry would not be as far along without Ledford in the mix. His deep expertise and relationships along with the ability to listen, explore, solve problems and generate consensus across many organizations and personalities were all instrumental in bringing real-time payments from its concept to launch in just a few years. Ledford’s contribution to the payments industry continues as he turns his attention to helping financial institutions of all types and sizes learn about, and gain access to, real-time payments by 2020.
The payments industry could not ask for a more dedicated and effective champion
Why does this finalist deserve to win?
Ledford's most noteworthy achievement is the development and launch of RTP®, The Clearing House's new real-time payments system. He has overseen nearly all aspects of RTP including its design, development, awareness strategy and implementation. RTP works in the background, underpinning a financial institution's customer facing systems for services like bill payment, cash management, P2P and emergency disbursements. Messages such as Request for Payment, Payment Confirmation, Request for Additional Information and Remittance Detail can be used in different ways to create truly innovative and frictionless customer-facing solutions.
Ledford was also a leading voice on the Federal Reserve’s Faster Payments Task force which helped develop a blueprint for faster payments in the U.S. He worked collaboratively for over two years with public and private industry participants to ensure momentum was maintained leading to the final assessment and publication of group’s recommendations. Ledford is one of the faster payments movement’s greatest champions helping to conceptualize use cases and educate consumer groups, SME and large corporates on the value propositions for faster payments. He has a unique ability to view the situation from the financial institution, network, and end-party perspective offering solutions to tie it all together. His excitement for faster payment is palpable. Since the release of the Faster Payments Task Force’s recommendations, Ledford has continued to build industry-wide momentum for real-time payments.
In November 2017, the first real-time payment was successfully transmitted between U.S. Bank and Bank of New York Mellon. Several additional early adopter banks are now ‘live” on the network and many more have plans to integrate the new system in the next 12 – 24 months.
This first payment represents three years of tireless execution in technology, operations, strategic partner selection and integration business requirements, rules making, standards setting, specification creation among thousands of (vocal) participants. In addition, Ledford has worked to ensure the system will be ubiquitous and address banks of all sizes by securing the commitment of the major core processors to light up all of their core clients and building the value proposition for corporates thus securing the future for faster payments.
Ledford and The Clearing House are working with providers of core processing and payment services, banker’s banks, and corporate credit unions to ensure that every financial institution in the U.S. has an easy way to access the RTP network by 2020.
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