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EU Makes Instant Payments the Law of the Land

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Making instant payments in the European Union (EU) just became much easier.

The European Council on Monday (Feb. 26) adopted a regulation making instant payments available in euros to consumers and businesses in the EU and European Economic Area nations.

“The new rules will improve the strategic autonomy of the European economic and financial sector as they will help reduce any excessive reliance on third-country financial institutions and infrastructures,” the council said in a news release.

“Improving the possibilities to mobilize cash-flows will bring benefits for citizens and companies and allow for innovative added value services.”

According to the release, the regulation lets people transfer money within 10 seconds at any time of the day — including outside business hours — both within the same country and to any other EU member state.

The council says payment service providers like banks must offer the service of sending and receiving instant payments in euros, and that the charges that apply — when applicable — cannot be higher than those for standard credit transfers.

As noted here earlier this month, the new regulation puts Europe in the company of other parts of the world that have long embraced instant payments.

“We are not trailblazing in this area: This regulation will allow the EU to catch up with international markets like Brazil, India, Australia and the U.K., where instant payments are growing fast,” Mairead McGuinness, the EU Commissioner in charge of financial services, said earlier this month.

“The technology to provide for instant payments is well established and, frankly, uptake has been too low in the EU.”

As PYMNTS wrote at the time, just 11% of all transactions within the eurozone were executed instantly in the first quarter of 2022, per the most recent figures from Societe Generale.

Meanwhile, research by PYMNTS Intelligence and findings from the Federal Reserve show the continued popularity of instant payments on this side of the Atlantic.

In a recent blog post, Claire Greene, payments risk expert with the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, noted some of the indicators showing consumer desire for faster payments, including a 27% rise in in same-day ACH payments, along with a 16% drop in the use of checks and money orders between 2019 and 2022.

And research by PYMNTS and Ingo Payments has found that 72% of consumers say they would receive instant payments if given the choice.