A2A payments explained

A2A payments offer a new way to seamlessly move funds between bank accounts, presenting a range of benefits for consumers and merchants alike.

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September 26, 2023
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A2A payments explained

A2A payments offer a new way to seamlessly move funds between bank accounts, presenting a range of benefits for consumers and merchants alike. 

On this page, we explore the intricacies of A2A payments, highlighting their advantages, the underlying mechanisms that power them, the challenges they seek to address, and the future landscape they’re shaping. 

What are account-to-account (A2A) payments?

A2A, which stands for account-to-account payments, are electronic transfers of funds directly from the buyer's bank account to the seller's account. These payments skip the usual payment methods and are promptly settled in the recipient's account.

A2A payments, existing previously through systems like ACH, are now seeing a revival due to open banking rules that enable third-party services to link with users' bank accounts using APIs.

How do A2A payments work?

Although account providers have their individual rules, the overall process is quite similar among them. To begin, the payer logs into their bank account to authenticate the action. 

Because they've previously allowed secure sharing of their account data with other financial institutions, the transaction can be approved directly within the bank app.A2A payments can be categorized as either "pushed" or "pulled," based on who initiates the action.

In the US, open banking has been required since 2008, but concrete regulations are still being developed. Currently, American consumers can use the traditional ACH system or the more recent Real-Time Payments (RTP) for A2A payments. Moreover, the Federal Reserve has introduced a new instant payment platform called FedNow in July 2023.

Difference between A2A and P2P payments

P2P, or Person to Person, means paying someone directly using their email or mobile number. A2A, or Account to Account, lets you move money between your account and an account at a different bank, like a merchant's account.

Types of A2A payments

A2A payments happen in two ways: push and pull. With push, the sender starts the payment, like in regular purchases. Pull is when the receiver starts it, needing approval from the sender first. Pull payments, such as direct debit, are used for things like recurring subscriptions.

A2A transfers have a variety of uses including P2P, C2B, B2B, B2C, and Me-to-Me transactions. These transfers offer an easy, secure, and cost-efficient way for people and businesses to shift money between their bank accounts.

Business-to-Business (B2B)

A2A payments work for transactions between businesses, as well as consumer payments. Suppliers can receive payments from customers for services or products using A2A transfers. Companies can also use A2A payments to pay contractors or service providers for their work. This streamlines transactions, reduces costs, and enhances security and transparency.

Business-to-Consumer (B2C)

Businesses can use A2A payments to directly pay their customers or clients. This can include processes like paying employee salaries, vendor bills, issuing customer refunds, or settling insurance claims.

Peer-to-Peer (P2P)

A2A payments allow direct money transfers between individuals' bank accounts. This means friends, family, or anyone else can use A2A payments to split costs, cover bills, or repay shared expenses without handling cash or using physical checks.

Consumer-to-Business (C2B)

A2A payments let individual consumers pay businesses directly. This might involve settling a utility bill, a subscription fee, or purchasing items online from a retailer, all through A2A transfers.


Individuals and businesses can utilize A2A payments to shift funds between their own bank accounts at different financial institutions. This could mean moving money from a checking account to a savings account at a different bank, or consolidating funds from multiple accounts for easier accounting.

Payment rails for A2A payments

Payment rails are like pathways that let money move between accounts. Think of them as the hidden paths that make A2A payments work. There isn't a single worldwide payment path. Instead, each country creates its own payment paths.

Some common payment rails used for A2A payments include:

  • ACH (Automated Clearing House) – A widely used system in the United States for electronic funds transfers, handling various types of transactions, including direct deposits, bill payments, and person-to-person transfers.
  • SEPA (Single Euro Payments Area) – Used in the Eurozone countries, SEPA allows for efficient cross-border transfers in euros, making payments within Europe more seamless.
  • EFT (Electronic Funds Transfer) – A general term that covers various electronic transfer systems used for A2A payments globally.

Benefits of A2A payments?

In this section, we’ll discuss the benefits for merchants and consumers. 

Benefits for merchants

As a merchant, A2A transfers and payments offer these advantages…

Wider customer reach

In today's world, online payments are a must. To extend your market beyond local borders, embrace A2A payments and tap into a broader customer base.

Improved conversion rates

A2A payment methods are hassle-free. Customers can pay right from their devices, enhancing their experience and boosting the chances of completed purchases.

Reduced transaction costs

Card networks often deduct a percentage of each transaction, cutting into your earnings, particularly with credit cards. Opting for bank payments can cut these costs, saving you money.

Instant settlements

A2A payment systems are speedy. Some, like RTP, provide instant availability of funds, and even Same Day ACH ensures your money arrives within the same business day. Faster processing empowers your cash flow management.

Benefits for consumers

By leveraging A2A payments, you can enable your customers to enjoy these benefits…

Improved user experience

Customers can effortlessly send money using their favorite devices, whether through a web browser or a mobile app. You can also enable them to connect their bank account to your app, eliminating the need to remember and manually type card or bank details when making transfers.

Strong security measures

A2A payments often involve multi-factor authentication (MFA). This might include things like confirming a one-time passcode sent to their phone or using biometric features like Face or Touch ID. These safeguards significantly reduce the chances of payment fraud, giving users peace of mind when moving money.

Drawbacks of A2A payments

Although A2A payments come with a variety of benefits, there are also potential downsides to think about. For instance, A2A payments might not work well for big transactions due to transfer limits. 

Not all businesses may accept A2A payments, either. Before transitioning to A2A payments, factor in your transaction size, how often you pay, and whether A2A payment options are accessible in your region.

A2A payments are also frequently subject to friendly fraud, as many A2A schemes don’t offer the same level of protection as card scheme payments. Therefore, it’s important to ensure that payers and payees have a trusted relationship.

Future of A2A payments

According to The 2023 Global Payments Report, A2A payments are projected to grow by 13% through 2026, resulting in a global ecommerce market size of almost $850 billion. Today, A2A payments are the leading online payment method in Finland, Poland, Nigeria, Malaysia, Thailand and The Netherlands.

A2A payments will undoubtedly have a major impact on the payment landscape moving forward. To begin, the United States Federal Reserve introduced FedNow. FedNow aims to offer instant transfers to a wider range of businesses and financial institutions, which should lead to greater adoption of A2A payments.

Positive changes are on the horizon that will be advantageous for both consumers and merchants. Nevertheless, it's important to note that not all challenges will be completely eradicated.

Explore payment processing with Checkout.com

Want to reap the rewards of A2A payments? Checkout.com makes it easy to get started. Simply integrate our flexible Payment Processing Tool then start increasing sales, improving acceptance rates and optimizing costs.

With faster, more reliable payments in every major market, your business can start making inroads with markets that already widely use A2A payments, and those experiencing an uptick in usage.

Talk to our sales team for more information on how Checkout.com can help your business bolster its payment processing.

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September 26, 2023 13:09
September 26, 2023 13:09