Austria was among the first countries to adopt the pan-European SCT Inst scheme in November 2017. Although adoption remained slow initially, Austria observed increased participation from banks and payment service providers over the years, to 425 participants by December 2021, the second-highest number trailing only behind Germany.
However, real-time payments still account for just a 2.6% share of total payments transaction volume in 2021, compared to a 58.5% share held by other electronic payments. This is a result of increased preference for payment cards, particularly contactless, with their usage gaining further traction amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, real-time payments will continue their uptrend, increasing at a CAGR of 33.3% in terms of volume from 2021-2026.
Real-Time Payment Types
Year of Real-Time
Quick to sign up for SCT Inst, more than 90% of Austria’s payment service providers have now adopted the scheme. Recently, however, the market’s impetus towards real-time payments has slowed somewhat. Despite their continued promotion by the larger Austrian banks, most online and in-store transactions are via card, PayPal, Klarna and the like.
However, younger Austrians have proved receptive to mobile wallets and similar digital experiences, with real-time P2P payment use cases such as bill-splitting growing in popularity. With the right real-time payment services it should be possible to also claim significant market share in the merchant and retail spaces, both online and brick-and-mortar. With Austria importing many more consumer goods than it produces, the benefits for retailers would include better cash flow to support more agile and responsive inventory strategies. From the consumer’s point of view, prompt refunds would be attractive when you consider that around 30% of goods purchased online are returned.
In the final analysis, it will be consumers who drive real-time payments growth. As services in every walk of life become more real time, it will be up to banks and acquirers to enable merchants to ensure payments are no different.
In our last report, we observed that due to the relatively small size of the market, Austrian banks were likely to collaborate on real-time payments in order to contain costs. While this creates demand at the outset, it can deter the unique innovations that drive wider real-time payments adoption. Differentiation, then, is the main challenge (or opportunity) facing Austria’s banks and acquirers.
As they explore how to achieve this, banks should engage best-in-class partners that have experience with successful real-time payment business models from around the world. With the right partner on board, they can accelerate time to market on added-value solutions that meet the needs of merchants and their customers.
Real-Time Total Participants
Population Banking Level
Number of debit, credit and
charge cards per adult
Index to global average
F5 Yr CAGR
Share of Volumes by Payments Instrument
- Paper-based payments
- Electronic payments
- Real-time payments
Immediate Payments Volume and Its Share in Overall Non-Paper-Based Transactions, 2015-26f
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