Italian bank UniCredit has launched its real-time, cross-border payments solution aligned with the European Union’s (EU) SEPA Instant Credit Transfer scheme (SCT Inst), reports said Friday (Jan. 5).
According to Global Trade Magazine, UniCredit deployed the solution to facilitate real-time payments between Italy and Germany; its first transaction took 2.5 seconds, the bank said. According to the financial institution (FI), it is the first to offer real-time payments in Germany.
UniCredit also said it’s the first to use the European Payment Council’s (EPC) SCT Inst scheme for cross-border payments.
“We have always aimed to lead the way on developing instant payments solutions for our clients,” said UniCredit Co-Head of Corporate and Investment Banking Gianfranco Bisagni in a statement, “and 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.”
The scheme supports transactions of up to €15,000. UniCredit’s service currently enables real-time payments for inbound payments in both Italy and Germany, and outbound payments in Germany; the bank said it plans to add outbound payment capabilities in Italy next month.
In addition to its faster payments solution, UniCredit is also considering an expansion via the acquisition of Germany’s Commerzbank AG, according to reports last September. Reports said the bank is in discussion with German government officials about a potential deal, but noted that a short-term takeover is unlikely. Combined, the FI would have $1.6 trillion in assets and expand UniCredit’s access to small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).
The European Payments Council first launched its SCT Inst scheme last September to several European member states. Officials plan to expand the service to more than 34 nations in the region and to revisit the transaction limit of €15,000 in November.
“With its numerous advantages, the SCT Inst scheme fully anchors European payments in the anywhere, anytime digital world,” said Javier Santamaría, chair of the EPC, when the scheme launched. “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. I can only encourage those who have not joined SCT Inst yet to do it as soon as possible. This enhanced European payments integration will have tremendous benefits for European consumers and businesses alike.”