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New digital partnerships boost European payments

Two pieces of news this week highlight how digitisation is enabling greater efficiencies in European payments, for banks and corporates alike. Firstly, Volante Technologies and SIA have signed a partnership agreement to enable banks, financial institutions and payment service providers to access instant payments, which they say will speed up the adoption of digital payments in Europe.

Instant payments in the cloud

The combination of Volante’s cloud-native SEPA Instant Payments as a Service with the high-speed, secure and low-latency network infrastructure SIAnet will allow European banks and financial institutions to directly access the EBA Clearing's pan-European real-time payment system RT1 and the TARGET Instant Payments Settlement (TIPS) service of the Eurosystem (the ECB and national central banks in the Eurozone). 

"The number of payment schemes across Europe continues to climb," commented Domenico Scaffidi, vice president, Global Industry & Regulatory Affairs at Volante Technologies. "Our combined proposition dramatically speeds up the process of connecting to these pan-European payment systems and platforms. As we are already certified with SIAnet, banks can very quickly offer instant payments to their customers, and benefit from reduced project resource and implementation costs. The partnership will also enable joint customers to extend the service to other payment types beyond SEPA Instant Payments."

The partnership will allow the banking and financial communities to send and receive payments in less than 10 seconds for a maximum amount currently set at €100,000 per individual transaction, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, in line with the SEPA Instant Credit Transfer scheme of the European Payments Council (EPC).

According to Volante and SIAnet, adopters of the solution will benefit from cloud payments processing as a service, resiliency and network infrastructure performance. The service is also extensible with a range of available additional payment types and schemes, including SEPA Credit Transfer and SEPA Direct Debit.

"The partnership with Volante Technologies is an important step in implementing SIA’s strategy to develop instant payments for banks and financial institutions in Europe and we are fully committed to supporting the success of this initiative," stated Cristina Astore, SIA’s Northwest Europe and DACH Region sales director. "As part of the SIA Partnership Program, we will enable Volante Technologies’ customers to directly access the pan-European payments platforms by leveraging the integration between a leading network infrastructure and a cloud-based innovative solution."

Leveraging SEPA's RTP services

Elsewhere this week, EBA Clearing and Iberpay have announced that they have delivered two interoperable services to process messages and provide functionalities complying with the new SEPA Request-to-Pay Scheme (SRTP) created by the European Payments Council (EPC). The joint launch of these new infrastructure services took place on the day of the entry into force of the new SEPA scheme.

EBA Clearing and Iberpay say they have made a significant effort to offer this service to potential users right from the launch of the scheme, being the first European infrastructure providers prepared to offer this new functionality. PSPs and other service providers adhering to this new SEPA scheme may now exchange SRTP messages end to end, in split seconds and across Europe, thanks to the connection between the real-time messaging systems of EBA Clearing and Iberpay.

This partnership aims to provide the missing piece to support use cases that users could offer their clients around the clock, many of which will rely on instant payments.

"Iberpay is strongly committed to playing a leading role in instant and digital payments and we believe that the launch of our Request to Pay service from the very beginning is a very important milestone for that," commented Juan Luis Encinas, managing director of Iberpay. "Iberpay is extremely pleased to collaborate with EBA Clearing with the aim to assure pan-European reachability for the SRTP Scheme and to better serve its users."

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What is a Request to Pay?

The SEPA Request-to-Pay Scheme is the set of operating rules, messages and technical elements that allows a Payee to request the initiation of a payment from a Payer before the exchange of the funds (money). The development of the scheme was taken forward by the EPC following a call to action by the Euro Retail Payments Board (ERPB) in November 2018 to analyse and prepare the concrete and rapid exploitation of the request to pay functionality.

Request to Pay is not a payment instrument, but a way to request a payment initiation (a pull payment). Request to Pay services are available 24 hours, every single day. They improve the payment process by adding a message exchange, which takes place before the actual payment (SCT or SCT Inst) and includes:

  1. A request to the Payer for a payment.
  2. The acceptation or refusal of this request by the Payer.

The information delivered as part of this request to pay exchange, allows the Payer to identify the Payee and makes it easier for the Payee to identify and reconcile the following payment.

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Use cases

Request to Pay is envisaged to evolve further over time and has been identified by the European Commission and the Eurosystem in their respective retail payments strategies as having the potential to add value to the SEPA Instant Credit Transfer (SCT Inst) Scheme as well as to improve the usability and support the uptake of instant and digital payment solutions.

The importance of the launch of Request to Pay is closely related to several use cases, which have already been identified by the industry, such as: unpaid or returned direct debits, e-commerce payments, substitution of other payment instruments, public administration payments, payment of e-invoices and even at point of sale.

"We are pleased to see the Spanish community connected to our R2P Service from day one of the SRTP Scheme," said Hays Littlejohn, CEO of EBA Clearing. "Iberpay is the first infrastructure provider extending R2P access to its user community. This supports our objective to build full pan-European reach for Request to Pay and ensure interoperability between the underlying infrastructures."

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