EPC consults on pan-European instant payments scheme

Financial professionals can cut costs by centralising payments

The European Payments Council (EPC) is launching a public consultation on the proposed single euro payments area (SEPA) instant credit transfer (SCT Inst) scheme, described as the first in the world to be interoperable in a region as large as SEPA and a response to European customer needs for faster payments.

The SCT Inst scheme rulebook, open to public consultation until 10 July, describes the business and technical rules that all payment service providers (PSPs) wishing to adhere to this optional scheme should follow. It states that the funds will be available on the account of the payee within 10 seconds, on a 24/7/365 basis, irrespective of whether the transaction is made between two accounts in the same SEPA country or in two separate SEPA countries.

Key features of the optional scheme include:
• It spans across the 34 countries which are within the scope of current SEPA schemes.
• It is based as much as possible on the existing SEPA credit transfer (SCT) scheme and retains many of its features, to facilitate a faster and cheaper implementation for scheme participants.
• It applies to credit transfers made in euro, up to an initial maximum amount of €15,000 per transaction.
• The money will be available in the account of the payee within 10 seconds.
• Individual scheme participants can agree bilaterally or multilaterally (for example within a specific SEPA country) on a lower maximum execution time and a higher maximum amount if they wish.
• Scheme participants should be technically capable of processing the SCT Inst transactions on a 24/7/365 basis.

SCT Inst transactions will be convenient for customers sending money across Europe quickly, such as in an emergency and will also provide a viable alternative in situations where cash is currently used; for example when payment on the spot is required, or when sharing a restaurant bill.

According to the EPC “the time has never been better to adhere to an effective euro instant payment scheme as several EU countries at the forefront of payment technologies have already launched their own solutions.

“A pan-European, interoperable scheme will avoid fragmentation and encourage the harmonisation of euro payments across the continent – a harmony that the European PSP community has been working hard and successfully to instil in recent years.

According to Javier Santamaría, chair of the EPC, “The new scheme will be a turning point in making pan-European instant credit transfers in euro a reality. We look forward to the participation of all PSPs and technical players in the public consultation for this project, which will be the first of its kind in a region as large as SEPA.”

The EPC will review the comments received during the public consultation in close collaboration with stakeholder representatives. The finalised scheme rulebook will be published by the EPC in November and implemented 12 months later in 2017 when the first SCT Inst transactions take place.

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