The Sepa (single euro payments area) Instant Credit Transfer (SCT Inst) scheme is now in operation and offering instant payment solutions across eight European countries via some 600 payment service providers (PSP).

SCT Inst, introduced by the European Payments Council (EPC), was launched this week in response to concerns that the emergence of various domestic real-time payment solutions would result in a fragmented market across Europe.

The new platform allows the electronic transfer of up to €15,000, across Europe, in less than ten seconds. Transactions can take place at any time and on any day of the year, including weekends and holidays. Transactions covered by the scheme must be denominated in euros.

Currently, Sepa credit transfers are processed in batches whereby a corporate will send payments to its bank at various times during the day, and all transactions will be submitted and cleared at the end of the day.

Countries currently participating in the scheme are Austria, Estonia, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands and Spain. Businesses, corporations and administrations from these countries can now make and receive instant euro credit transfers within their national borders as well as cross-borders, with the funds being available immediately.

The geographical scope of SCT Inst is expected to progressively span over 34 European countries. More European countries are expected to join the scheme in 2018 and 2019. Among them are PSPs from Belgium, Finland, Germany, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal and Sweden.

The scheme is also expected to evolve to reflect market needs, such as regular review of the maximum amount per transaction, to make it more attractive to larger organisations.

Chair of EPC, Javier Santamaría, says: “With its numerous advantages, the SCT Inst scheme fully anchors European payments in the anywhere, anytime digital world. SCT Inst is the only regional initiative of this kind in the world. The European payment community can be proud of the work achieved to make instant euro credit transfers a reality today.”

Italy’s UniCredit, one of the banks that has been involved during the development and testing stages, says it conducted its first instant payment from Germany to Italy on the platform this week. The transaction was completed in 2.5 seconds.

Global co-head of corporate and investment banking at UniCredit, Gianfranco Bisagni, says: “We are excited about the benefits this new service will bring to our clients – promoting speed and transparency through 24-hour, 365-days-a-year coverage and real-time notifications of successful payments.”