Empowering European payments with SCT Inst

Empowering European payments with SCT Inst

13 April 21

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The instant payments space had been gaining significant traction in recent years, and access to immediate funds has become paramount for consumers and businesses in particular in the current pandemic. We launched the Instant Credit Transfer ( ) scheme almost three and a half years ago, and since then the scheme has kept on growing. We strongly encourage the further take-up of instant payments, which will enable European payment service providers ( ) to contribute to more innovation and harmonisation of payments in Europe. So here we're exploring the scheme’s most significant achievements, opportunities, challenges, and future goals. 

We hope that these successful developments will incentivise that have not yet decided to rapidly join the scheme. If your institution plans to become an scheme participant, we would be happy to guide you through the adherence process

’s growth and performance in a few key figures

As of April 2021, the scheme includes 2,310 payment service providers or from 23 countries in Europe – that is fifty-eight percent of the total number of participants in and over sixty-eight percent of the total number of participants in the euro area. More and additional countries will come on board over time.  


growth since its launch.

When measured in terms of reachable payment accounts, the current penetration is even higher across the euro area as a significant majority of payment accounts is reachable for in twelve countries1.  We are confident that these numbers will continue to grow over the months to come.


Map of the countries where are already offering services. 

The volume of transactions in the fourth quarter of 2020 represented almost eight percent of the total volume of and transactions in , compared to five-and-a-half percent in the fourth quarter of 2019. This rapid growth is expected to continue in the coming quarters.


Estimated share of volumes in total + volumes.

Why should adhere to the scheme?

Instant payments have the potential to develop in the person-to-person and person-to-business segments in situations where cash and cheques are currently widely used. They may reduce the cost of managing cash and cheques, which are the most expensive means of payment at the level of the entire economy. 

offers many benefits to all payment stakeholders, be they end-users or service providers. The main innovative characteristics are the following:

  • 's real-time nature: the scheme allows the electronic transfer of money across Europe in under ten seconds; in practice, virtually all successful transactions are completed within five seconds.
  • Its permanent availability: at any time and on any day of the year, including weekends and holidays.
  • Its targeted pan-European reach (progressively the full set of 36 countries).
  • The multitude of use cases it supports: individuals, businesses, and government entities are able to use the scheme in many different circumstances.

The following recent developments make the scheme even more attractive for and payment end-users alike:

  • Since 1 July 2020, the maximum amount per instruction has been set at one hundred thousand euros, further facilitating business-to-business transactions. 
  • The launch of the SEPA Request-to-Pay scheme (SRTP) on 15 June 2021 will complement the scheme across a broad range of use cases such as retail commerce transactions at physical or online point of interaction, proximity person-to-person transactions, and business-to-customer and business-to-business e-invoicing.
  • The SEPA Proxy Lookup (SPL) scheme, which supports , facilitates interoperability between participating payment solutions by enabling the conversion of a proxy (mobile phone number, e-mail address) into a payment account identifier (IBAN) across .


The very creation of the scheme and its rapid development over its first three and a half years testify to the collective vision and support of European for real-time payments.  

that intend to join the scheme should understand that they have to adapt their IT systems to make them real-time and available 24/7/365, as well as establish back-up arrangements, upgrade their operational and risk management processes such as fraud detection plus their clearing and settlement arrangements, and develop and promote this new service to their customers. The therefore did not expect all from the 36 European countries to join immediately or even shortly after November 2017, but instead anticipated the take-up to be progressive over several years.

Notwithstanding the challenges face, the scheme is, so far, being deployed in line with expectations, and the has not identified any significant obstacles.

Full roll-out

The believes that a critical mass of scheme participants and reachable payment accounts is being attained in the euro area through a natural, market-based process based on the benefits of the scheme for end-users and . However, the recognises the significant investment and operational changes required at level

In conclusion, two distinct targets could respectively be set: one for eurozone-based and one for outside the euro area. As shown above, the scheme’s penetration is already very broad across the euro area where the availability of is a reality for a vast majority of citizens, and a very significant majority of payment accounts are already reachable and usable for . It is important in this context to mention that the European Commission considers adherence to the scheme to be an urgent priority and a pre-condition for the full roll-out of euro instant-payment solutions as part of its recently published strategy for retail payments in the . Therefore, the first target is to be as close as possible to full coverage in terms of payment accounts by the end of 2022 within the euro area. A second target would be to achieve critical mass outside the euro area within the following two years. 

  1. Austria, Belgium, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain  

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