Commission welcomes political agreement on euro instant payments

The Commission welcomes the political agreement reached yesterday between the European Parliament and the Council on the Commission’s proposal to make instant payments in euro available to all citizens and businesses holding a bank account in the EU. The new rules, which modernise the 2012 Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) Regulation, aim to ensure that instant payments in euro are affordable, secure and processed without obstacles across the EU. Instant payments offer fast and convenient solutions for citizens in everyday situations, like receiving funds promptly in case of emergencies or splitting shared costs immediately in various social settings. They also improve cash flow management for public administrations and businesses, specially SMEs, enable charities and NGOs to access funds quickly, and encourage banks to develop innovative financial services and products.

Payment service providers of euro credit transfers will be obliged to offer instant payments to all their customers, ensuring that the cost is not higher than that of traditional transfers. They will also have to verify that the payment is sent to the beneficiary intended by the payer, and alert in case of a possible mistake or fraud before the transaction is made. Moreover, the new rules will preserve the effectiveness of sanctions screening through a harmonised procedure. Instead of screening transactions one by one, instant payment providers will be required to check their clients against EU sanctions lists at least daily.

Mairead McGuinness, Commissioner for Financial Services, Financial Stability and Capital Markets Union, said: “Today’s agreement marks a hugely significant step in modernising our payment systems, enabling consumers and businesses to make faster and more convenient transactions. The ability to send and receive money within seconds, at no extra cost, will allow EU citizens to better manage their finances. It also brings real and tangible benefits for businesses, especially SMEs and merchants, who can be reassured that funds transferred to them are immediately received. This agreement shows the strong political will and commitment of the European Parliament and Council in making instant payments in euros across the EU a reality. This is a win-win situation for the EU.”