All banks should start providing instant payments within a year says Madis Müller

Deputy governor of Eesti Pank Madis Müller says that within a year all the banks operating in Estonia should start providing instant payments to allow payment service users to send payments from one bank to another within seconds. SEB is the only bank in Estonia that currently offers instant payments to its customers. Versobank is listed as one of the first movers as well.

Central banks, commercial banks and clearing and settlement mechanisms (CSMs) have been working on delivering instant payments for years. From the end of November 2017, all banks and payment service providers are able to join the pan-European Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) Instant Credit Transfer Scheme and process instant payments through compliant CSMs from one bank to another within only seconds. Clients can make and receive instant payments in those banks that have implemented the new scheme, while both the initiator and the recipient bank must adhere to the new scheme.

“When other banks start providing instant payments in Estonia alongside SEB, private customers and companies will benefit as funds will start to move between banks within only seconds. I hope that all the banks operating in Estonia will start to offer clients this new and improved payment method within one year at the latest”, said Madis Müller, Deputy Governor of Eesti Pank.

He added that when instant payments become more widespread, it will allow banks and companies to change to new business models. “It will be possible to develop payment solutions that make it easier for individuals to settle payments between themselves and to pay for purchases in shops or internet stores”.

The SEPA Instant Credit Transfer Scheme can be used to settle payments of up to 15 000 euros in less than 10 seconds within Europe. Instant payments will be available 24 hours a day every day of the year. The SEPA Instant scheme is voluntary for banks and payment service providers, but it does require them to be ready to process payments within seconds all round the clock.

Further information

  • The SEPA Instant Credit Transfer Scheme was launched on 21 November, when around 600 payment service providers made instant payments available in eight countries: Austria, Germany, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The new payment scheme was established by the European Payments Council. Adherence to the scheme is voluntary and it requires investment, so banks and other payment service providers may join the scheme over time. The banks can join the system on two levels, either only receiving instant payments from other banks, or also offering instant payment services themselves. Many payment service providers in other European Union countries have shown interest in joining the system in the years ahead.

  • Instant payments and making such payments available to payment service users in the market is an important focus for central banks in the shorter term. To make it easier for smaller banks to join the system and to ensure that the instant payment systems (CSMs) already in use in Europe are interoperable, the Eurosystem, which comprises the central banks of the euro area, are working together under the leadership of the European Central Bank to develop TARGET Instant Payment Settlement (TIPS). The development of TIPS should be completed within one year and it should go live in November 2018.

  • After the changeover to SEPA in 2014, the European Retail Payments Board* proposed that Europe should have at least one payment solution that worked instantly, all year round, and round the clock. The rules for the scheme were written by the European Payments Council**, and the infrastructure was put in place by November 2017. Since 21 November, banks have been able to develop solutions designed to suit the needs of their clients.


* The Euro Retail Payments Board (ERPB) was founded in 2013, and it is chaired by the European Central Bank and covers not only banks but also various supply and demand side payment market participants. The goal of the Board is to develop an integrated, innovative and competitive market for retail payments in Europe. For further information, see www.erpb.eu.

** The European Payments Council represents payment service providers such as banks, and its goal is to support and promote pan-European payment schemes across Europe. For further information, see http://www.europeanpaymentscouncil.eu/.

 For further information:
Ingrid Mitt
Public Relations Office
Tel: 668 0965, 512 6843
Email: ingrid.mitt [at] eestipank.ee
Press enquiries: press [at] eestipank.ee