Economic Benefits of Real-Time Payments Remain Largely Untapped  

Argentina recorded 25 million real-time transactions in 2021, resulting in an estimated cost savings of $3 million for businesses and consumers. That in turn helped to unlock $15 million of economic output, representing 0.003% of the country’s GDP. 

With real-time transactions set to rise to 316 million in 2026, net savings for consumers and businesses are forecasted to climb to $50 million. This would help to generate an additional $183 million of economic output, equivalent to 0.03% of the country’s forecasted GDP.  

That means for the second largest economy in South America, the economic benefits of real-time payments remain largely untapped. According to the Cebr, the theoretical impact of all payments being real-time could add 4% to formal GDP by 2026. However, these are theoretically modeled benefits; they do not suggest that there is no place for non-instant electronic payments or paper-based payments in the future.  

Argentina has three real-time payment schemes. The first scheme, Pago Electrónico Inmediato (PEI), was launched in 2016 and facilitates P2P transfers between mobile wallets and supports real-time payments on mobile POS devices and online websites. DEBIN, the second scheme, is a real-time direct debit system launched in September 2017.  

While these systems were available for quite some time, their contribution to the growth of real-time payments in the country remained low due to their limitations. Due to this, in October 2020, the central bank approved the Transfers 3.0 scheme to create an open and interoperable payments system.  

As part of the first stage implementation of Transfers 3.0 in December 2020, a standardized QR code payments interface was launched allowing users to make payments by scanning any QR code with any mobile banking app or digital wallet solution. The system aims to eventually replace the existing real-time payment systems DEBIN and PEI.  

The launch of this new real-time payments scheme and accelerated shift towards electronic payments amid the COVID-19 outbreak will see real-time payments volume grow at a CAGR of 66.3% from 2021-2026. 

Key Stats

Real-Time Payment Types

Single Instance

Bulk Payments


Initiation/Authorization Methods

Bank Account



QR Code

Year of Real-Time
Payments Launch




Pago Electrónico Inmediato (PEI)


Transfers 3.0



Message Standard


DEBIN and Pago Electrónico Inmediato (PEI)

Expected ISO 20022

Tranfers 3.0

ACI’s Take

Since the Transferencias 3.0 standard came into effect in December 2020, Argentina has the foundations for a robust and vibrant real-time payments ecosystem (the scheme is compatible with all bank accounts and virtual wallets).

On the central infrastructure side of things, Prisma (a leading acquirer and issuer), Red Link (a leading acquirer) and Coelsa (the electronic clearing house) have been chosen by the central bank to operate Transferencias 3.0. Their task, in our view, is to develop a technology roadmap that supports the running of resilient, secure and flexible real-time rails. That will require a future-ready infrastructure that does more than fulfill normative and undifferentiated real-time capabilities; there is more to the business of real-time payments than the immediate transfer of funds. The current strategy of implementing simple real-time capabilities on the country’s aging CREDIN/ DEBIN scheme can only ever be a short-term fix, then, since the platform cannot grow and adapt to highervalue use cases like Request to Pay or B2B payments.

For banks, much of 2021 was spent gearing up for the mandated requirement to be able to process P2P real-time payments by December. Looking ahead to the first half of 2022 they are expecting the operators of Transferencias 3.0 to define the scheme’s roadmap for ISO 20022 modernization so that they can begin work on theirs. For their part, the banks seem receptive to making the transition from the older ISO 8583 to the newer, data-rich alternative and the new revenue streams that should open up. That means there is much riding on Prisma and Red Link’s time to market on their own support for ISO 20022. ISO 20022 modernization would also enable long-term benefits around cross-border real-time payments and other regional value-added services, thanks to simpler inter-scheme integrations (between PIX in Brazil, CCE in Perú, T3.0 Argentina and SPI in Paraguay, for example).

The recommendation, then, is for all parties to embrace their role in modernizing real-time payments infrastructure and standards, and to accelerate adoption with the development of use cases that go beyond the basic. Running new services on legacy architecture will only unleash a fraction of the potential revenue growth available from real-time payments in the long term.


Mobile Wallet Trends


% of adults who have a mobile wallet and have
used it in the past year (2021)

Real-Time Acceptance





Real-Time Total Participants

All Domestic Banks


Majority of Banks

Pago Electrónico Inmediato (PEI)


Transfers 3.0

Population Banking Level


Number of debit, credit and
charge cards per adult


Index to global average

  • Fully Banked
  • Progressing
  • Underbanked

Real-Time Transactions







Payments Fraud Rate


Population who reported being a
victim of fraud in the last 4 years

Top 3 Payment Fraud Types

% of fraud victims Trend

Card details stolen online


Confidence trick



Share of Volumes by Payments Instrument


  • Paper-based payments
  • Electronic payments
  • Real-time payments


Spend (USD)



Real-Time Payments Volume and Its Share in Overall Non-Paper-Based Transactions, 2015-26f

% of total electronic payments transaction volume

Trends + Data

Cloud Management Platform


Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)


Hybrid Cloud


Managed Cloud Service

  • Current priority
  • Planned

Platform as a Service (PaaS)

Private Cloud

Software as a Service (SaaS)


Argentina is the second largest economy in South America. It is an upper-middle-income country, which ranked as the 31st largest global economy in 2021 (Cebr World Economic League Table, 2022).

In 2021, total net savings for consumers and businesses through the use of real-time payments at current adoption rates generated benefits worth $2.7 million. This was led by the reduction in payment system costs, accounting for 73% of this total. On a per-transaction basis, real-time payments in Argentina in 2021 had an 11% lower average payment cost compared to non-real-time payments.

The relatively low net savings compared to other economies of a similar size is driven by the fact that as of 2021 the majority of transactions are paper based (67.7%). Real-time payments accounted for only 0.2% of all transactions.

At the macroeconomic level, GDP facilitated by real-time payments amounted to $15.3 million in 2021 (<0.01% of formal GDP), with the increase driven by real-time payments formalizing $15.0 million of shadow economy activity through reduced cash usage.

It is estimated that the share of real-time payment transactions will increase more than ten-fold by 2026 to 2.2%. Net savings for consumers and businesses are expected to increase to $50 million. The macroeconomic impact of real-time is estimated to be $183 million of economic output (0.03% of formal Argentinian GDP) in 2026, equivalent to that produced by 4,969 workers annually.

For Businesses and Consumers



Net savings stimulated by real-time payments



Projected net savings stimulated by real-time payments

GDP Growth



of economic output



of GDP facilitated by real-time payments



Projected of economic output



of GDP facilitated by real-time payments


Consumer Payments

The Need for Speed to Market in Consumer Payments - Payments modernization as a response to customer demand

Download PDF

Fraud Management Insights

Expanding the Horizons of Fraud Detection - The Network Intelligence Approach to Machine Learning

Download PDF


Defining and Building the Next-Generation Payments Hub - Global survey report from ACI Worldwide and Edgar, Dunn & Company

Download PDF

Compare Market Insights in Your Region

Use this exclusive tool to compare and contrast regional real-time trends, and gain access to insights to help drive your real-time strategy.

Get Started