Instant transfers will soon be free

Generally charged at one euro, instant transfers, which allow money to be transferred to a beneficiary’s account in a few seconds, will soon be compulsory and at no additional cost. The Council of the European Union is at the origin of this initiative.

In a press release published on February 26, the Council of the European Union announced that it had adopted a new regulation to force banks to support instant transfers at no additional cost. This is to make money transfers much faster in Europe, free of these highly contested fees.

The instant SEPA transfer, introduced in 2018, should soon become the norm in France, while most major banks use this technological advancement to sell paid options to their customers, which was not the initial goal.

Goodbye transfers charged at 1 euro

Instant transfer has several obvious advantages:

  • It is universal and allows the customer of bank A to send money to the user of bank B, without having to use a third-party service, such as Lydia or PayPal.
  • It allows money to be transferred in around ten seconds, which limits the risk of false transfers, waiting time and uncertainty about when the sum has arrived in the account.
  • And it works 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

In its early days, the instant SEPA transfer was seen as replacing traditional transfers, which were set to disappear.

Unfortunately, most banks have not played the game. According to the bank rates observatory, in 2022, only 5 French banks out of 100 will not charge for instant transfers. The classic rate is generally 1 euro, although some banks offer rates between 50 cents and 10 euros, depending on the amount transferred. Only a few online banks (Boursorama, Revolut, etc.) offer the service free of charge, replacing the classic SEPA transfer.

CIC is one of the banks that charges for instant transfers.  // Source: Numerama
CIC is one of the banks that charges for instant transfers. // Source: Numerama

A “no extra cost” service within 9 to 18 months

This is where the European Union comes in. The new regulation introduces perfect equality between classic and instant transfers:

Payment service providers such as bankswho make ordinary transfers in euros, will be required to provide services for sending and receiving instant payments in euros. Fees that apply (if applicable) born must not exceed the fees who are charged for ordinary transfers », Indicates the European Council.

In other words, all French banks will soon have to offer instant transfers. Since they will no longer have the right to sell it in the form of a paid option, they will have to align its price with that of traditional transfers, that is to say 0 euros. Ultimately, instant transfers should become the norm in France. Goodbye to transfers that take three days.

Prices observed by the Banking Rates Observatory in 2022. // Source: OTBPrices observed by the Banking Rates Observatory in 2022. // Source: OTB
Prices observed by the Banking Rates Observatory in 2022. // Source: OTB

The only unknown: the date of implementation of free and compulsory instant transfers. The European Council cites “a period of transition” for banks to put in place verification systems to verify that an IBAN matches the name of the account owner. Banks can technically comply quickly, but can also wait several months.

In the 60-page regulation published by the European Council, it is indicated that Member States whose currency is the Euro must be able to receive instant transfers within 9 months, and send them within 18 months. This period is even longer for countries that do not pay in euros. The 1 euro transfer will soon be a distant memory.

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