EPC gears up for pan-European instant payments

EPC gears up for pan-European instant payments

A new voluntary pan-European instant credit transfer scheme that will bring real-time money transfers across the Single Euro Payments Area (Sepa) is on course to go live in November, with five countries onboard from the off.

The European Payments Council is introducing the Sepa Instant Credit Transfer (SCT Inst) scheme in response to concerns that the emergence of new domestic platforms, such as the UK's Faster Payments, might end up creating a fragmented market in Europe, similar to what existed in regular payments in the past.

Under the SCT Inst blueprint, people will be able to transfer up to EUR15,000 within 10 seconds, 24/7/365, across borders between accounts in any of 34 Sepa countries. PSPs willing to increase the amount limit and transaction speed can bilaterally or multilaterally agree to do so.

With SCT Inst set to go live in just five months, Jean-Yves Jacquelin, who chairs the EPC scheme evolution and maintenance working group, says that payment service providers (PSPs) from Austria, Spain, Finland, Italy and Latvia are ready to adhere from the get-go.

More countries - including Germany, Portugal, Belgium, Sweden and some PSPs from the Netherlands - will follow in 2018 and Jacquelin says he is "confident" that others will be onboard by 2019.

Meanwhile, seven large clearing and settlement mechanisms (CSMs) - including EBA Clearing, Equens Worldline, Iberpay and Stet - will be able to support SCT Inst transactions from November.

Despite what is likely to be gentle start because of the quick run-up time to launch, Jacquelin expects SCT Inst to pick up pace, targeting 50% of all Sepa credit transfers instant by 2022.

He says: "This would be a real success story. It is not impossible; it will depend on how PSPs are positioning the instant payments ‘products’ and the channels at the disposal of customers for making instant payments, which must be mobile, easy and fast.

"The next challenge I see is a real opportunity for cooperation between fintechs and PSPs to make SCT Inst a success story."

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