Transforming payments in Spain: the impact of instant and internationa...

Transforming payments in Spain: the impact of instant and international payments and beyond

28 May 24

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The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and should not be attributed to the European Payments Council.

Spain pioneered the adoption of the SEPA Instant Credit Transfer (SCT Inst) scheme at its inception. This initiative has not only transformed the payment landscape but has also catalysed new opportunities and advancements within the Spanish financial sector. 
We interviewed Raouf Soussi Laghmich, Head of Corporate Payments Strategy at BBVA, to learn more about the evolving payment landscape in Spain and the sector’s future plans.

How would you describe the current payment landscape in Spain, and how has it evolved in the recent past?

Currently in Spain, and I suppose in many other countries, we are experiencing a real revolution in the world of payments that I believe is going to change a lot of customer habits and surely create new ways of working. The most important change was the introduction of real-time payments in November 2017. Currently almost a hundred percent of Spanish institutions offer instant payments to their customers.

One of the first direct applications of this payment method was Bizum. This service, providing peer-to-peer payments in real time, has been so successful that nowadays it represents almost fifty percent of payments between accounts and has 26 million users.

In addition, Bizum has also entered the world of commerce, with thousands of shops, both physical and online, accepting it as a payment method.

What are your thoughts and insights regarding the OCT Inst scheme?

In my opinion, OCT Inst is the next logical step towards real-time payments to improve the customer experience. The proof of concept (POC) we have used in Spain has given good results, and the current version of the scheme is quite complete, although in the future it will have to evolve according to further needs that are detected. However, it needs to be widely adopted by market players. To this end, we are holding meetings at the community level to review what needs to be done so that it can be adopted by all entities as soon as possible. It would be ideal if that could be done this year.

The dynamic growth of instant credit transfers has brought to light fraud as a critical factor in the era of instant payments. What measures have been introduced in Spain to combat payment fraud?

Fraud is a very important issue for customers, who need to be able to make their payments safely. To this end, the Spanish community is working in several directions. Firstly, all institutions are investing in solutions and training specialised teams to fight fraud. In addition, banks are collaborating in industry-wide initiatives, such as Iberpay's Payguard, to add another layer of security. Finally, the banks are also working to provide information to their customers to increase their awareness of fraud.

What is next on the agenda for payments in Spain? What developments do you foresee in the payments sector in the next few years?

In my opinion, the use of real-time payments, e.g. by companies, should be further consolidated. That means we need to look at what the companies need (batch booking, advanced tracking, etc.). Another way to increase the use of instant payments is to develop and promote the use of additional services, such as Request-To-Pay, which could be used in many use cases in sectors such as insurance, utilities, etc. There will also be new use cases for Bizum, and the cross-border world will grow in functionality.

Infographic: The Spanish payment landscape (May 2024)
(Click to enlarge and download)

Spanish landscape


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