Real-time gross settlement systems (RTGS) are specialist funds transfer systems where transfer of money or securities takes place from one bank to another on a “real time” and on “gross” basis. Settlement in “real time” means payment transaction is not subjected to any waiting period. The transactions are settled as soon as they are processed. “Gross settlement” means the transaction is settled on one to one basis without bundling or netting with any other transaction. Once processed, payments are final and irrevocable.
RTGS systems are typically used for high-value transactions that require immediate clearing. In some countries the RTGS systems may be the only way to get same day cleared funds and so may be used when payments need to be settled urgently. However, most regular payments would not use a RTGS system, but instead would use a national payment system or network that allows participants to batch and net payments.
RTGS systems are usually operated by a country’s central bank as it is seen as a critical infrastructure for a country’s economy. Economists view that an efficient national payment system reduces the cost of exchanging goods and services, and is indispensable to the functioning of the interbank, money, and capital markets. A weak payment system may severely drag on the stability and developmental capacity of a national economy; its failures can result in inefficient use of financial resources, inequitable risk-sharing among agents, actual losses for participants, and loss of confidence in the financial system and in the very use of money.