UniCredit has started testing with EBA Clearing’s pan-European, real-time payment platform RT1.

Customers in Italy and Germany will be the first to use the new payment method, due to be available from November.

Around 39 financial institutions are working on the development of the new infrastructure, which will provide a real-time payment processing platform, 24 hours a day, across the single euro payments area (Sepa).

Some 30 financial institutions are planning to connect to RT1 in November while another 70 banks are preparing to join in 2018.

Jan Kupfer, global co-head of global transaction banking at UniCredit says: “The introduction of euro-denominated instant payments will enable us to better support the payment businesses of both our corporate and retail customers.”

CEO of EBA Clearing, Hays Littlejohn, says: “Our aim was to provide the European payments industry with a fully-fledged pan-European infrastructure system from the start date of SCT Inst (Sepa instant credit transfer) and we are happy to see that RT1 meets the requirements of our funding banks as well as of a growing community of fast followers across the continent.”

The European Payments Council (EPC) proposed the idea of a Sepa instant payments scheme in November 2015 following shifts in consumer, corporate and retail expectations around payments processing. The EPC then published the legal framework and technical specifications for the scheme in November 2016, giving payment providers one year to go live.

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.

SCT Inst will be processed at a transaction level, for payments up to €15,000. As soon as a payment service provider recognises that the Sepa transaction is an instant payment, they will process and clear the payment in real time, with money visible in the receiver’s account within 10 seconds.

The SCT Inst scheme, which is not mandatory, will be available across 34 Sepa countries.