Fintech 25 April 22

Instant payments, the current solution for your future clients

By: Simon Voisin
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To paraphrase Daft Punk, France’s financial services are going to have to get ‘better, faster, stronger’ quickly to satisfy the post-pandemic consumer expectation of receiving payments instantly. The groundwork was set, of course, in 2018 when Sepa Instant Payment (SEPA) went live, but it was the pandemic that accelerated the use of digital payments in France – and with it the expectation of being able to make payments instantly. Mobile wallet use in France grew 10% in 2020 as a result of the pandemic, and 64% of French adults who used digital payments for the first time during the pandemic plan to continue doing so. 

What Are Instant payments?

SD2) re Instant payments is a method of exchanging and processing payments through immediate transfer of money. The payments are processed in real time so recipients will instantly receive the funds. Most banks will provide faster payment services.

France – well positioned to reap the benefits of instant payments

Like the rest of Europe, France is subject to the Payment Service Directive (PSD2) regulations, which made instant online payments more secure and has leveled the playing field for EU-based payment service providers, established and startup. Yet France has more prospects of harnessing the take-up of instant bank transfers than its European counterparts. This is due to the nation’s historically low take up of payment cards among the adult population, and its wide variety of banks, PSPs, billers and merchants accepting instant payments – its instant payments network is growing 92.3% year on year.

Instant payments: business and consumers’ new darling

In a 2021 speech to the European Payment Institutions Federation, the European Commissioner for Financial Services, Financial Stability and Capital Markets Union Mairaid McGuinness pledged that a core part of the  EU payment strategy going forward would include open banking and instant payments to make it a global leader in payments.

Because SEPA hasn’t been uniformly implemented across the EU, there have been disparities between countries’ business and consumer appetite for embracing real-time instant payments.

It’s why in February 2022 Mairaid McGuinness reaffirmed her earlier position and confirmed that the European Commission will present a legislative initiative on instant payments by the middle of the year. She stated: “We need this to accelerate the roll-out of instant payments in the EU.”

With the European Commission confirming that instant payment systems are essential to ensure cross-border competitiveness in the EU, it makes sense for France’s Fintech ecosystem to seize the momentum. 

And it has.

Since it connected to the pan-European SEPA scheme in 2018 France has seen instant payments grow to 455 million transactions in 2021. This is predicted to grow to around 2.4 billion by 2025 – an increase of 39.2%

Why France’s Fintechs should continue to embrace and adopt instant payments to transform their payments process

In our blog Fintech Trends in 2022: The big five, we predicted that user experience will increasingly be a deciding factor for business success. Instant payments play a significant role in offering an enhanced user experience: receiving funds instantly, at the point of need, has huge appeal. Little wonder, then, that since 2021 around 50% of French consumers are more aware of instant payments, with the figure much higher with Generation Z at around 79%, and 75% of Millennials. So, the future is most definitely instant payments.

Partnerships simplify instant payments

Before 2018 and the PSD2 regulation, only banks could offer new products to the end consumer. Banks, by their nature, are traditional, cautious, conservative, and not geared up to take advantage of new trends. 

For Fintechs to embrace instant payments, they need to be regulated, have the resources for compliance, have a clear idea about pricing, knowledge about the maturity of their markets, and be able to deliver an exceptional service to ensure they constantly delight their customers.  This is where partnerships come in. Currencycloud has partnered with payments processor Tribe and physical and virtual card sponsor Transact Payments to offer Fintechs and their clients complete transparency to foreign exchange costs charged on international card transactions, whilst also giving customers access to multi-currency wallets – enabling businesses to offer seamless cross-border payments by connecting businesses to the banking and payment ecosystem through a single API.

Unlocking new markets

The take up of instant payments opens up new opportunities and markets for Fintechs and businesses alike. For example, Wealthtech is revolutionizing investments by bringing to market trading and savings apps that make it as easy to buy global stocks and shares as it is to buy an espresso. 

Digital natives have high expectations of a frictionless user experience and expect the same when it comes to managing financial assets.

A recent revealed 24% of current investors said they had missed out on an investment opportunity because funds had not appeared in their accounts quickly enough.

By offering instant payments, a wealth provider can empower their customers to easily and securely connect their primary bank account to their app – letting them fund their investment account in a matter of seconds, so they can make timely investment decisions.

Businesses of all sizes can delight their customers by offering even more than the convenience of instant payments. For example, a travel agency can offer foreign exchange to its customers at attractive rates, locking in an FX rate for a Christmas holiday in the summer, or over the weekend. All at the point of making their payments. This same agent could attract new customers by offering travel insurance, and with it the ability to instantly pay out for medical expenses abroad. 

Find out how Currencycloud can help your business prepare for the future today, and help you to take your international business global. Speak with our experts, we’d love to chat. 

Instant Payments FAQs

What is SEPA instant credit transfer?

SEPA instant credit transfer was created by the European Payments Council to speed up the development of instant payments in Euros.

Can you pay cross border with instant payments?

Yes, you can use instant cross-border payments to transfer money and receive funds immediately across countries.

How long do instant payments take?

Instant payments are processed in real time, meaning you receive payments immediately. This means you can complete last-minutes or emergency transactions.


By: Simon Voisin

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