Progress through standards
Since the introduction of the euro, a rapid and ongoing development of non-cash electronic payments has been observed in Europe.
The basis for this development are various standardizations for procedures, formats and legal frameworks. Worth mentioning are in particular the Payment Services Directive, the Cross-Border Payments Regulation, and not least, the agreements on SEPA, which today are indispensable for transfers and direct debits, but also for clearing and card payment systems in 34 countries.
New technical possibilities, particularly in the field of mobile devices and applications, offer new opportunities, but also create new challenges to the markets. One of the important prerequisites for tomorrow's business processes are payments that can be made in real-time.
The EPC SCT Inst Scheme
The European Payments Council (EPC) has responded to these challenges with the scheme for SEPA Instant Credit Transfer — or short: SCT Inst — and has worked out a set of rules for euro transfers in real-time. The basic data of this set, the so-called Rulebook, are:
- Open participation — The scheme is deliberately open and allows, in addition to direct subscribers, indirectly addressable subscribers, too.
- ISO 20022 formats — The messages to be exchanged between the subscribers are based on the global ISO 20022 standard for real-time payments.
- 24x7x365 — All systems involved must be designed to be fail-safe for operation around the clock on all days.
- 10 seconds — An SCT Inst transaction must be completed within 10 seconds at the latest. In particular, in the case of success, the transferred amount is directly available on the account of the payment recipient.
- 15,000 EUR — In the first phase, amounts up to EUR 15,000 per transaction can be transferred.
- 34 countries — The procedure is available to payment service providers from all 34 SEPA participating countries.
- 21 November 2017 — SEPA Instant Credit Transfer will start on 21 November 2017.
EBA CLEARING via RT1 for real-time transfers
The SCT Inst Scheme of the EPC deliberately defined the clearing and settlement mechanism (CSM) between the subscribers in an open way. Institutes can therefore refer to existing CSM systems and agreements, which implement the scheme according to the Rulebook.
For the official launch in November 2017, the European Banking Authority, short EBA, has provided RT1, a platform for all payment providers in charge of an account, the so-called AS-PSPs.
The high reputation of the existing EBA CLEARING, including the given financial, infrastructure and administrative framework, expose RT1 as the predestined CSM system for Europe-wide real-time payments. This includes, amongst others, the provision of a test environment that is identical to the production environment.
SEPA transfers in real-time with the BL Real-Time Server
The software company Business-Logics, based in Hilden, Germany, has presented the BL Real-Time Server as the solution for credit institutions and service providers to participate in real-time payment transactions via SCT Inst. The server system is based on the platform of the BL Clearing Server, which has been in use since 2008 at many credit institutions for data exchange in electronic mass payments and clearing with the Deutsche Bundesbank and the EBA.
The main focus in the development of the BL Real-Time Server was to further increase the already high performance of the EBICS engine, without having to dispense with the proven robustness and straightforwardness in operation.
From now on, the supplier offers the system for all subscribers of the SEPA Instant Credit Transfer and, in particular, for the participation in RT1 of the EBA CLEARING. Part of the offer is the integration of the solution into the IT environment via standard interfaces to the backend of the payment service provider.
In addition to project assistance for the connection to RT1 or other SCT Inst compatible CSM systems, the company is also available to advise on the introduction of real-time solutions.