The headline states, “Facebook claims its proposed payments network is 7 times faster than Visa’s,” yet the article doesn’t really indicate that. In fact, putting aside the ridiculous headline, I’d argue that the last paragraph re-printed below from the article clarifies everything:
“FastPay aims to solve this by enabling authorities to jointly maintain account balances and settle prefunded retail payments between accounts. The researchers claim it supports “subsecond” latency confirmation appropriate for physical point-of-sale payments while providing capacity comparable with peak retail card network volumes and real-time gross settlement. “FastPay eliminates counterparty and credit risks of net settlement and removes the need for intermediate banks, and complex financial contracts between them, to absorb these risks,” the coauthors write. “FastPay can accommodate arbitrary capacities through efficient sharing architectures at each authority.”
The researchers say that building a test implementation of FastPay on Amazon Web Services required about 2.5 months of work for three engineers, with a server containing 96 virtual processors across Intel Xeon Platinum 8175 48 physical cores and 384GB memory. In experiments, they claim FastPay supported up to 160,000 transactions per second under a total load of 1.5 million transactions across the 48 cores — about seven times the peak transaction rate of the Visa payments network — while running on commodity computers that cost less than $4,000 a month to run. And in a test of latency, the coauthors say that FastPay was performant during both transfer and confirmation orders; the latency was under 200 milliseconds for a client on the U.S. West Coast and about 50 milliseconds for one in the U.K.
The researchers admit their experiments represent the best-case performance and a Facebook spokesperson told VentureBeat via email that FastPay is strictly experimental payments protocol research. But in the interest of transparency, they’ve open-sourced their implementation of the FastPay system, support scripts, and measurements data.”
I wonder how Visa’s infrastructure would perform in a similar network construct using debit transactions. My guess is that it would perform as well or better.
Overview by Tim Sloane, VP, Payments Innovation at Mercator Advisory Group