On 11 March 2021, the European Commission published for consultation a draft roadmap (impact assessment) regarding a proposed Regulation on an EU-wide instant payments scheme.

The objective of the draft roadmap is to foster pan-European market initiatives based on instant payments, which would ensure that anyone holding a payment account in the EU could be able to receive and send an instant credit transfer from and to any other payment account in the EU, as a first step in euro and eventually in any EU currency. Attractive payment solutions would allow the initiation and acceptance of instant payments domestically and cross-border (and in the longer-term globally) and in various circumstances include physical point of sale, online and between individuals (e.g. mobile payment applications). These objectives are consistent with the broader objectives of the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) project.

The Commission explains that the roadmap for the initiative will investigate whether: (i) new legislation is needed; (ii) non-legislative measures would be appropriate; or (iii) other policy options are suitable. The roadmap notes that a non-legislative option could consist in exploring possibilities of actively promoting the voluntary participation of payment service providers in relevant standardisation processes or schemes, awareness raising campaigns addressed to payments services users such as consumers and merchants, setting up a structured dialogue with national payments communities to coordinate national plans for promoting the update of instant payments or potentially addressing a Commission Recommendation to Member States. The roadmap also notes that legislative options could, on the basis of further analysis, cover a mixture of possible ‘enabling’ measures fostering the full roll-out of instant payments, and could include any combination of factors including effective incentives for payment service providers to offer instant credit transfers in euro, which could be constructed in a manner similar to that adopted in the past in the SEPA Regulation for SEPA Credit Transfers and Direct Debits.

The deadline for comments on the roadmap is 7 April 2021.