Real-time payments have not been launched at a country level in Ireland, although a handful of banks offer this service via SCT Inst. Electronic payments are widely used in the country, with their share accounting for 63% of the total payments transaction volume in 2021. The large banked population and high awareness of electronic payments will act as key contributing factors if a real-time payments scheme is launched at the country level.
Real-Time Payment Types
Year of Real-Time
Message Standard Expected
In response to growing market demand for real-time payments, several of Ireland’s main banks have agreed to collaborate on a new mobile app, Synch Payments, focused on retail. The project’s tech strategy is inspired by similar developments in Italy, with SIA Jiffy chosen to develop and run the scheme.
At the time of writing, in December 2021, the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission had announced that it was investigating the competitiveness of the project. However that pans out, it seems unlikely that Synch Payments will evolve into the broader domestic real-time payments scheme that banks need to drive additional consumer and business use cases. Instead, since Ireland is a eurozone country with a relatively small population, the logical option from a cost and convenience point of view would be to rely on the ECB’s TIPS or EBA’s RT1 rails. The alternative for Ireland may be to adopt the same strategy as Belgium and work with a local domestic clearing and settlement mechanism (CSM) like STET, which also has cross-border reach and interoperability.
That means the biggest impetus for modernization is likely to come from elsewhere, such as delivering better customer experiences and taking costs out of cross-border payments, with SCT Inst payments superseding SEPA debit, direct debit and SEPA credit transfers as we have seen already in the Netherlands.
Ireland has a significant migrant population abroad, and innovations that bring down the cost of transferring funds into and out of Ireland — particularly to and from the U.K., U.S. and Australia — would be most welcome. So, the ability to make real-time cross-border payments settled in local currencies could be a key driver for payments modernization.
The recommendation is that Irish banks make strategic infrastructure decisions the focus of upcoming refresh cycles, particularly when it comes to which processes to outsource and which to retain in house to take out or reduce costs. The market’s ceiling for real-time payment volumes is lower than its larger European neighbors, so managed payment services would help to keep operating costs and the cost of compliance under control, while also accelerating time to market on new revenue streams. It would also make the onboarding of future payment types relatively painless and make Ireland an attractive fintech and regtech hub for introducing new overlay service providers. (This may in turn help with the Ireland Development Agency’s [a government department] ambitions for encouraging inward investments into Ireland.)
Mobile Wallet Trends
% of adults who have a mobile wallet and have
used it in the past year (2021)
Real-Time Total Participants
Population Banking Level
Number of debit, credit and
charge cards per adult
Index to global average
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
Card details stolen/skimmed in person
Bank account hacked
Share of Volumes by Payments Instrument
- Paper-based payments
- Electronic payments
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