In November 2017, the European Payments Council (“EPC”) SEPA Instant Credit Transfer (“SCT Inst”) scheme became operational.
This scheme is aimed at consumers, businesses and large corporates. Instead of having to wait for up to one day for funds to be available to a beneficiary which have been transferred via a SEPA credit transfer payment, the beneficiary should receive the funds and have access to them within 10 seconds of the payer affecting the transfer. Currently there is a limit of €15,000 on any one transfer to limit the risk of fraud however it is expected that this limit will be increased in the future as technology and anti-fraud protections improve. The EPC will review the limit in November 2018 and plan to review the limit at least once a year from then onwards.
Scope of the Scheme
The SCT Inst scheme has the potential scope to cover 34 European countries and territories: the 28 European Union Member States together with Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Monaco and San Marino. However unlike the core SEPA Credit Transfer Scheme, this instant scheme is optional and both the beneficiary and the payer’s Payments Service Provider (“PSP”) will have to both be scheme participants and currently no PSP in Ireland has signed up as a participating PSP for the scheme. Currently the SCT Inst scheme is only available in eight countries: Austria, Estonia, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands and Spain. The EPC has indicated that it expects PSPs in Belgium, Finland, Germany, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal and Sweden to join the scheme during the course of 2018.
There has been no uptake of the scheme in Ireland yet by any of the Irish PSPs where like other countries in Europe we currently have a number of competing PSPs offering varied digital online payments services to Irish customers (both businesses and consumers). It is probable that the uptake of the scheme in Ireland will depend on its success across the rest of the EU and the resulting market pressure to sign up to the scheme.