Economic Benefits of Real-Time Payments Remain Largely Untapped   

Italy is among the few nations that adopted the pan-European SCT Inst scheme in the early -stage in November 2017. Despite the head start and wider participation from banks and payment service providers (280 participants as of December 2021), the growth in adoption and usage of real-time payments has been slow due to a high preference for cash. 

Italy recorded 248 million real-time transactions in 2021, which resulted in an estimated cost savings of $51 million for businesses and consumers. This in turn – which helped to unlock $418 million of additional economic output, representing 0.02% of the country’s GDP. 

With real-time transactions set to rise to 737 million in 2026, net savings for consumers and businesses are forecasted to climb to $168 million in 2026, . That would helping to generate an additional $1.2 billion of economic output, equivalent to 0.05% of the country’s forecasted GDP.  

Italy is one of the countries for which real-time payments provide the biggest economic growth opportunities. According to the Cebr, the theoretical impact of all payments being real-time could add 4.9% to formal GDP by 2026. However, these are theoretically modelled modeled benefits, ; they do this does not suggest that there is no longer place for non-instant electronic payments or paper-based payments in the future.   

While real-time payments account for just a 0.9% share of total payments transaction volume in 2021, paper-based transactions occupied an almost three-quarter share. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic now accelerating the shift towards digital payments, real-time payments volume is set to grow at a CAGR of 24.3% 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




Message Standard


ACI’s Take

At the time of writing, Italy’s first digital overlay service to make use of the SCTInst real-time scheme is in development: Request to Pay on the Secure Real-Time Platform (SRTP), with all its accompanying and applicable use cases. This initiative by national regulators and financial institutions is the first step in a renewed focus on expanding real-time payment use cases. The idea is to inject some energy into what is a stable but slow-growing market, by better embedding real-time payments into everyday aspects of consumer life.

Indeed, longer term there are talks of extending real-time payments into eCommerce. There, current penetration is virtually nil, but Covid-related shifts in consumer behavior mean overall activity volumes are higher than ever.

Expanding use cases therefore contributes to a continued positive outlook for real-time payment opportunities in the market, further fueling the business case for action by the market’s payment players. Historical preferences for paper-based payments, a high maximum real-time transaction limit (up to €100,000), a continuously improving domestic scheme — these are strong foundations for high real-time payment volumes.

Maturing regional interoperability throughout Europe, converging on the TIPS system, is another factor expected to influence growth of real-time payments. (Though it must be noted that Italian banks, which have already invested heavily in the Bancomat Pay scheme, remain in wait-and-see mode when it comes to the European Payments Initiative (EPI)).

The feeling is that real-time payments adoption will not remain sluggish for long, especially as more innovative use cases come online. As they do, success will depend on more than handling high volumes. Payments modernization strategies should continue to prioritize competitive differentiation around ancillary services, such as fraud monitoring, digital identity management, and billing and liquidity management. But they should also reflect the fact that rationalizing infrastructure and removing duplication will be vital to cost-effectively onboarding and processing new payment types, schemes and use cases. Accelerating the convergence of payments architecture into a hub environment will also accelerate the path to profitability for real-time payments.


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


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

Confidence trick


Card details stolen/skimmed in person


Card details stolen online

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)


In 2021, Italy ranked as the world’s eighth largest economy (Cebr World Economic League Table, 2022).

In contrast to its European peers, Italy has a primarily paper based payments mix. Almost three quarters of all transactions in the economy are paper-based, leaving real-time payments with a marginal share of 0.9% as of 2021. Italian consumers and businesses therefore enjoyed relatively modest benefits from real-time payments, totaling only $51 million in efficiency savings.

These benefits contribute to the real-time payments system facilitating $418 million in macroeconomic gains in 2021 (0.02% of formal GDP); equivalent to the output of 4,535 workers. This macroeconomic impact is predominantly driven by the formalization of shadow economy activity. Cebr estimates that, in Italy, real-time payments were responsible for the formalization of $359 million of economic activity that would have otherwise occurred outside of the formal institutional and bureaucratic frameworks.

By 2026, the share of real-time payments is expected to increase to 2.9%, with paper-based transactions remaining dominant. The benefits at the business and consumer level are expected to increase to $168 million, while the macroeconomic benefits of real-time payments are estimated to rise to $1.2 billion of formal economic output; equivalent to that of 12,694 workers, or 0.05% of formal GDP in 2026.

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

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Fraud Management Insights

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

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

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