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Instant Credit Payments

Instant credit payments are real-time electronic fund transfers that are processed 24/7, throughout the year.

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The instant credit payment system is designed to ensure the instant availability of funds to recipients and was first launched in November 2017 by the EPC (European Payment Council)

What is the SEPA Instant Credit Payment Scheme?

The SEPA (Single Euro Payments Area) Instant Credit Transfer is a European instant payment solution that works for domestic and cross-border (ECTs) Euro Credit Transfers. It is available 24 hours a day on all calendar days of the year, including holidays, and allows the transfer of up to 100,000 euros to a recipient account in less than 10 seconds. 

The instant credit payment system is designed to ensure the instant availability of funds to recipients and was first launched in November 2017 by the EPC (European Payment Council). The EPC payment scheme can be availed by Payments Service Providers (PSPs) in 36 European countries for the transfer of secure payments. 

The secure payment gateway provides customers the fastest option to send payments, pay bills, and transfer funds. SEPA Instant Credit Payments deliver end-to-end remittance information to ensure security along with convenience.

History of the ERPB and the SEPA Credit Payment

The concept of instant payments was first introduced by the European Central Bank (ECB) back in December 2013 with the establishment of the Euro Retail Payments Board (ERPB).

In December 2014, the ERPB provided details about the need for instant payments in the Eurozone. The ERPB proposed that at least one pan-European solution for instant payments in euros should be available to all payment service providers in the European Union. 

In May 2015, the ERPB requested the EPC to draft Instant Payments Guidelines.

The EPB published an initial proposal for the Instant Payments Guidelines in November 2015. The proposal was made after market participants in several EU countries had implemented or were in the process of developing national solutions for instant payments. 

The risk was that these solutions would operate smoothly within the specific country, but would not ensure cross-border availability. One year later in November, the final version of the Instant Payments Guidelines was published by the EPC. 

In November 2017, the Instant Credit Payments procedure became operational. The launch of the SCT Instant Credit Payments scheme established a new era in payments, based on speed and innovation.

Key Features of the SEPA Credit Transfer Scheme

  • SCT Inst payment is based on XML ISO 20022 and SEPA Credit Transfer standards
  • SCT Inst is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. There are no cut-off times
  • The maximum execution time for SCT Inst payment is 10 seconds and the funds are immediately available for the beneficiary
  • The full amount is credited to the beneficiary, and the shared fees are mandatory
  • The maximum amount of SEPA Instant Payment is 100,000 euros
  • The Remittance Information of 140 characters and End-to-End ID of 35 characters supplied by the payer is forwarded in full and without alteration to the beneficiary

The Eurosystem monitors the use of SCT Inst via its euro area SCT Inst indicator. This indicator provides further clarity and transparency on the take up of SCT Inst as well as on the evolution of various types of payment instruments in Europe.

The indicator is calculated as the percentage of SCT Inst transactions out of all SEPA credit transfers. The data is presented on a monthly basis and collected from clearing and settlement mechanisms at the end of each quarter.

2023 EPC SEPA Instant Credit Transfer Rulebook

On 27th October 2022, the European Payments Council published version 1.1 of the 2023 Instant Credit Transfer rulebook and related documents on the maximum amount of credits that can be transferred. This rulebook version was replaced with immediate effect version 1.0 of the 2023 rulebook that was published in May 2022.

The first change compared to version 1.0 is the amended entry-into-force time of the 2023 rulebook which is now set at 03:30 CET on 19 November 2023. The second change is a SEPA-wide 30 minutes downtime period for the Instant Credit Payments scheme from 03:00 CET up to 03:30 CET. During that downtime period, no single Instant Credit Payment instruction, transaction, r-transaction, transaction investigation and any response message related to them will be possible across SEPA.

Suggested Read: Securing Instant Money Transfers in the Banking Sector – EPC’s New Rulebook

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