Over the past 4 years, the number of instant transfers has risen sharply, but they still represent only a small percentage of all transfers carried out in France. The Banque de France is keen to promote this service, which enables money to be transferred in less than 10 seconds, 7 days a week, 24 hours a day.
Instant transfer: France less advanced than the rest of Europe
Launched in 2018 in France, the instant transfer service is not meeting with the expected success. According to recent figures from the Comité national des paiements scripturaux (CNPS), the national payments governance body chaired by the Banque de France, instant transfers account for just 3% of all transfers in France.
The average value of an instant transfer is 530 euros, compared with 1,780 euros for a standard SEPA transfer. In Europe, instant transfers account for 10% of all credit transfers. According to Julien Lasalle, secretary of the CNPS, this "slight delay" is partly due to a lack of awareness of the service, which suffers from a "lack of notoriety".
In spite of this, instant transfers are on the rise, even if the financial authorities consider the trend to be insufficient. In Q1 2022, 52% more instant transfers were made than in Q1 2021, a quarter which had already seen the volume of instant transfers triple.
Towards a better understanding of the service and appropriate pricing
To accelerate the development of instant transfers, the CNPS has decided to launch a campaign to promote the service, highlighting its advantages: rapid availability of funds, guaranteed receipt of funds, and improved cash flow for businesses.
However, the slow growth in the number of instant transfers is not solely due to a lack of awareness of the service. In fact, most banks charge an average of 1 euro for this service.
Some neobanks are opting for a free service in order to stand out from the competition, like Memo Bank, which since March has been offering its customers free instant transfers, up to 100,000 euros per transfer.
La Banque Postale, which used to charge 80 eurocents for this service for business customers and 70 eurocents for private customers, has now abolished all charges for instant online transfers. Under certain conditions, this type of transfer will replace the classic SEPA transfer (occasional transfer, up to 7,700 euros for business customers and 1,000 euros for private customers).
According to Julien Lasalle, the Banque de France has welcomed the Banque Postale's decision, and is hoping for "a convergence in rates between standard and instant transfers". For the time being, however, a price cap is not envisaged.
The financial authorities also want the banks to make better use of Paylib, a free interbank payment solution currently available to over 25 million users.
In the meantime, draft legislation dedicated to instant transfers (user protection, pricing) is being prepared by the European Commission, for presentation at the end of 2022.