Sibos 2017: ECB and clearing firms play nice on instant payments

Sibos 2017: ECB and clearing firms play nice on instant payments

European clearing industry players put any lingering irritation with the ECB to one side during the final day of Sibos to come together to extol the virtues of instant payments.

From November, thanks to the European Payments Council's Sepa Instant Credit Transfer ("SCT Inst") Scheme, the likes of EBA Clearing, Stets and equensWorldline will begin bringing banks onboard their various instant payments systems.

From late 2018, they will be joined by the European Central Bank, which has decided to build its own Target Instant Payment Settlement (Tips) platform, arguing that it is uniquely placed to provide true pan-European reachability.

Asked by the ECB's Francisco Tur Hartmann about Tips, José Beltran from Stet acknowledged that it is a "sensitive question" but ultimately welcomed the development, noting that access to central bank money reduces credit risk.

EquensWorldline's Michael Steinbach was a little less "politically correct" but ceded the reachability argument, concluding that Tips is "welcome, even if it came in an unorthodox way".

Hays Littlejohn from EBA Group says that instant payments takeup is likely to vary significantly between different countries, a point backed by Beltran, who thinks that in a card-friendly place like France it may take some time for the new services to gain traction, but in Germany adoption could come faster.

There is also expected to be different timelines for adoption of different types of payments. Instant payments were initially seen as a tool for P2P transfers but in the longer term the panel think that they could become popular for B2C and B2B payments.

B2C, though, will require them to get payments that really are near-instant - people are not going to wait 10 seconds for a POS payment to go through. Meanwhile, the EUR15,000 limit being advised at launch will have to go for B2B transactions to take off.

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