Bank of Estonia: Instant payments would make payment environment smoother

SEB has offered instant payments to its customers for the past year already.
SEB has offered instant payments to its customers for the past year already. Source: Postimees/Scanpix

The addition of Swedbank and LHV to the pan-European instant payment system in the near future will be a positive development for the Estonian payment system and will make the payment environment smoother, said Rainer Olt, leading specialist at the Department of Payment and Settlement Systems at the Bank of Estonia.

"If everything goes according to plan, customers of SEB, Swedbank as well as LHV will soon be able to carry out instant payments," Olt said in a press release. "Thus, a large portion of payments can in the near future be carried out in an instant and round the clock, even on public holidays."

According to Olt, SEB has been offering instant payments to its customers for the past year already. In order to carry out an instant payment, however, it is necessary that both the maker as well as the recipient bank have joined the system.

"This is why Estonian people and companies will start fully benefitting from instant payments once all other Estonian commercial banks have joined," he explained. "Swedbank joined the system in October and is currently enabling customers to receive instant payments and soon also initiate them. It is likely that by the end of the year, customers of LHV will also be able to make instant payments."

According to the specialist, the wider use of instant payments between consumers and companies as well would make the Estonian payment environment smoother.

"It is important for the consumer that they can use a secure payment solution and do not have to go and withdraw cash before a purchase," he said. "For example, by paying with a smartphone's mobile wallet, it does not matter to the consumer in the end whether their money is moving from their account to the trader by instant payment or card payment."

Olt added that instant payments would then first and foremost offer an opportunity to accept alternative payment methods for companies for whom, for example, accepting card payments is too expensive. "Instant payment solutions should be cheaper than accepting card payments as banks will not have to pay additional fees to card organisations," he noted.

Instant payments rolled out in 16 countries

"It is estimated in Europe that the majority of banks will join the instant payment system by 2020," Olt said. "Currently, altogether 2,042 banks and other payment service providers have joined, meaning that the coverage is approximately 49% of payment service providers. Along with Estonia, banks from altogether 16 countries have joined the instant payment system already. Therefore, there is stable movement toward ensuring that instant payments become the new norm."

According to the specialist, the actual use of instant payments will undoubtedly bring bank customers' expectations to the next level. "Thus, it is only a matter of time until consumers and companies can start using the instant payment based payment solutions briefly described above on their smart devices — hopefully already before next Christmas," he added.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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