Instant payments for treasurers

| 31-03-2017 | Alessandro Longoni |

Building on the ideas shared in a previous article about Cash Conversion Cycle on treasuryXL, this piece focuses on the developments that new European laws will bring in the areas of Instant Payments and how this will affect Treasury.

As part of further standardization within the union, European regulators mandated the industry to develop an “instant payments” product aimed to making the funds available on the receiving side “within a maximum execution time of ten seconds”. The SCT Inst scheme has been developed to allow for consumer payments (C2C, C2B) in Euro for the SEPA and will be an optional scheme – meaning that PSPs and Banks are not obliged to join.

Practical Use Cases

From a cash management perspective, Instant Payments open an array of new possibilities for merchants, especially for those operating eCommerce operations. Currently if a customer places an order on a friday late afternoon, the funds are made available (earliest) on monday evening, while the order is most likely processed and delivered by Saturday afternoon. With SCT Inst, if the order is placed on friday at 21:00, the funds will be received (maximum) at 21:00:10 and already available to pay suppliers if needed.

From a treasury perspective, Instant Payments will also allow for more transparency on transactions and easier reconciliation, but time needs to be devoted to update the current tools to facilitate for this. As Instant Payments will gain customer adoption, the incoming payments cash account will be filled with hundreds or thousands of transactions per day, as opposed to one per day coming from your Payment Service Provider. Having direct access and insight in each single transaction will make it easier to reconcile it with the relative order, check the amount and book it in the general ledger, but the sheer number of lines in the system requires current tools to be updated to cope with the increased volume and speed.

Pros and Cons

There are several benefits this new payment method brings to the table, including a strong reduction of working capital trapped to fund operations, however, in order to extract all the benefits, ERP systems need to be updated to check the status of transactions in real-time instead of intervals. Without investing in developing the current tools further, companies risk missing out on the new opportunities to deliver better customer service and create additional efficiencies in cash management.


Alessandro Longoni 

Managing Consultant at Proferus



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