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Amid COVID-19, European authorities are rapidly developing infrastructures for real-time payments, says new yStats.com publication.

The latest publication of the Hamburg-based desk-research firm yStats.com, “2021 Key Trends of the Payment Industry: Real-Time Payments in Europe” provides details on the increasing demand for real-time fund transfers and the reaction of the payment service providers in Europe in 2020, as well as expectations of the future developments in the industry. The publication reveals that most European countries are updating infrastructures for this type of payments amid the COVID-19 health crisis.

Europe has set an objective to switch to real-time payments

According to figures cited in the new yStats.com report, Western Europe is going to be one of the top markets regarding the adoption of real-time payments by 2025, with the value share being close to one-fifth of the world’s total. Currently, during the COVID-19 health crisis, in the European Union, about six in ten SEPA payment service providers support real-time fund transfers, and the European Central Bank has set an objective to ensure the full deployment of real-time payments across the euro area by the end of 2021.

Moreover, Northern Europe is one of the main drivers of real-time payments in Europe, since in 2021 it will introduce its P27 system for Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland, with other Nordic countries joining later. P27 is expected to unify several payment schemes, allowing for real-time and cross-border low-cost payments among the Nordic countries.

During the health crisis, most European countries saw a rapid surge in real-time payments, however, some still lag

Not all countries underwent an increase in demand for real-time fund transfers via the local RTGS systems amid the pandemic. In Switzerland, for example, their value via the Swiss Interbank Clearing (SIC) system has been steadily going down since March 2020 and has even reached negative year-on-year rates at the end of the third and beginning of the fourth quarter of 2020, as detailed in the yStats.com publication.

Nevertheless, most of the countries in Europe, including the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, have experienced a significant surge in the number and value of real-time fund transfers during the last quarter of 2020.