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Payments update: SEPA finally delivers, and Sweden is most cashless

SEPA has been in existence since January 2008, and finally is really starting to deliver as PSPs (Payment Service Providers) and companies incorporate it into their offerings and into their ways of doing business:

  • Instant Credit Transfer service goes live on 21 November 2017
  • More PSPS are rolling out a direct debit service, e.g. TrustPay, provider of online payment solutions, has announced the launch of its new SEPA Direct Debit product. The new solution allows merchants to collect funds from their customers’ bank accounts directly via a European-wide SEPA Direct Debit system, which is available in 34 countries
  • Businesses are changing their business models to tap into the move to buying continuous services rather than one-off products or services, e.g. Adobe sells its software on a subscription basics, the Spotify tunes download model it based on recurring payments NOT one off payments, which are made seamlessly by cross-border direct debiting services in SEPA

Other payment system developments:

  • Sweden is now the most cashless society on the planet, with barely 1% of the value of all payments made using coins or notes last year (and 20% of transactions). The main drivers for this rapid move (in payment systems terms) were:
    • Use cards because they are quicker and minimises risk of robberies 
    • Coins and banknotes have been banned on buses for several years after unions raised concerns over drivers' safety
    • Smaller retailers are jumping on the bandwagon, too, making use of home-grown technologies such as iZettle, the Swedish start-up behind Europe's first mobile credit card reader. Such portable technologies have enabled market traders - and even homeless people promoting charity magazines - to take card payments easily.
  • Apple has announced 13 additional US banks and credit unions to the roster of supported card issuers for its Apple Pay platform in the USA
  • Multi-channel providers continue to expand their global coverage, e.g. Adyen, a payments platform for companies, has expanded its payment processing offerings in Singapore via a direct credit card acquiring license for Visa and Mastercard
  • Instant credit transfers continue to be popular in UK: in the year ending August 2017 single immediate payments grew 20%.

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