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SEPA Vs. SEPA Instant: What Is Better for Your Business?

Boaz Gam

Boaz Gam


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3 min
Article content
  1. SEPA Payments in a Nutshell
  2. What Is SEPA Instant?
  3. Benefits of SEPA Instant Transfers for European Businesses
  4. What’s Next for SEPA Instant Transfers?

How Can Businesses in Europe Benefit from SEPA Instant?

If you conduct business on the European continent, you have definitely dealt with SEPA transactions. This money transfer service once revolutionized the payments landscape across a number of Euro and non-Euro countries by creating a unified network in place of a fragmented ecosystem.

While a variety of entities still use regular SEPA transfers today, there is a more modern alternative to it - SEPA Instant. This brief guide talks about the key differences between these two schemes and explains which one of them is more effective for your business.

SEPA Payments in a Nutshell

How Can Businesses in Europe Benefit from SEPA Instant?

SEPA stands for Single Euro Payments Area. It is a money transfer standard applicable to EU countries and other territories. The legal foundation for it has been laid out in the Payment Services Directive (PSD). As of 2022, SEPA consists of 36 member-states.

SEPA was introduced in 2008 and fully implemented in 2016 as an initiative to optimize domestic and cross-border cashless transactions in the European continent. This goal was achieved by enabling European businesses, administrations, and consumers to initiate and receive credit transfers, bank card payments, and direct debits within a unified framework.

Thus, SEPA payments are financial transactions between parties located in the SEPA union member countries. They are performed with the use of IBAN numbers and can take up to 1-3 business days to reach the recipient.

What Is SEPA Instant?

How Can Businesses in Europe Benefit from SEPA Instant?

SEPA Instant, also known as SEPA Instant Credit Transfers or SCT Inst, is a system that delivers the funds to a recipient in a matter of seconds 24/7/365, regardless of the account provider’s conditions on payment, clearing, and settlement.

This service began its operations in November 2017, shortly after the European continent was fully onboard with regular SEPA payments. However, to be able to make SEPA Instant transfers, both the sender’s and the receiver’s banks have to be connected to this scheme.

SEPA Instant is aiming to potentially encompass all member states, yet the coverage nowadays varies significantly from one country to another, ranging from 3% in Denmark to 100% in Slovenia1.

Besides, SEPA Instant transfers have a threshold of €100,000, while regular SEPA payments don’t have a limit.

Here are some insights into what BNPL regulations nowadays look like in some countries:

While most reputable BNPL providers globally stick to codes of best practice, there are fears of a brewing financial scandal. Thus, most major economies have begun building plans to regulate the provision of BNPL services.

Benefits of SEPA Instant Transfers for European Businesses

How Can Businesses in Europe Benefit from SEPA Instant?

There are several reasons why it is beneficial for businesses to become part of the SEPA Instant framework, namely:

  • Convenience. This service relieves you from the need to set up numerous separate bank accounts to facilitate cross-border payments.
  • Transaction speed. It is essential for money transfers to be fast nowadays, especially when it comes to business transactions.
  • Accessibility. With SEPA Instant, it is possible to send and receive money at any moment, which will enable you to conduct business payments on your own terms.
  • Flexibility. No matter if you are dealing with direct debit, credit transfer, or payment cards, the transaction process will be equally as frictionless.
  • Improved liquidity management. Having the information regarding the fluctuation of funds in your bank account updated in real time will help you manage your company’s financial resources better.
  • Affordability. The pricing of SEPA Instant transfers is no different from regular SEPA payments.

With that said, if you are running a business in one of the SEPA-member countries, it is strongly advisable to consider switching to such instant payments for the sake of optimizing your company’s performance.

What’s Next for SEPA Instant Transfers?

How Can Businesses in Europe Benefit from SEPA Instant?

SEPA Instant is a crucial building block for a pan-European open finance space, so it is only a matter of time until it becomes omnipresent. Already today, 2,297 PSPs have joined this scheme - and counting2.

Implementing SEPA Instant in your operations already today by collaborating with entities that are a part of this framework, will provide you with a competitive advantage and prepare you for further developments in the real-time payments sphere.

1 - Truelayer - Open banking: why SEPA Instant payments need a nudge
2 - European Payments Council - SEPA Instant Credit Transfer Today

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