Spain launched its domestic real-time payments system Bizum in October 2016 and later adopted SCT Inst in November 2017. The adoption and use of real-time payments in the country has been on a gradual rise, supported by increasing participation from banks and financial institutions. While Bizum has more than 31 participants, SCT Inst was adopted by more than 90 banks in Spain as of December 2021. The increasing demand for electronic payments amid COVID-19 has also supported the growth.
The trend is likely to continue over the next few years, with real-time payments set to record a CAGR of 36.3% from 2021-2026 in terms of volume. Consequently, the share of real-time payments of the total volume of electronic payments will increase to 14.1% in 2026 from 4.7% in 2021.
Real-Time Payment Types
Year of Real-Time
Spain’s appetite for digital payments continues to grow unabated. Indeed, the pace of change from cash-centric to digital-centric has quickened remarkably — mostly thanks to the wildly successful Bizum app. Launched in 2016 and built on SCT Inst, the Bizum mobile wallet has attracted more than 18 million and has regularly added features beyond its original P2P functions.
Things have taken off at a speed that has surprised even the app’s most ardent proponents. One driver of adoption is the modern Bizum user interface replicating social networks. Another is a steady stream of use cases taking real-time payments deeper and deeper into consumers’ lives. These include support for donations to NGOs, eCommerce payments and refunds, and even real-time settlement of national lottery prizes. Its ease of use is also boosted by widely available QR-code initiation. Realizing the potential of IP will rely on overlay services that can help NPP to truly breakout. With the platform generally seen as the rails for most payment types, banks should be confident of long-term success.
Interestingly, three large European Payments Initiative (EPI) shareholders — Santander, BBVA and Caixa Bank — are also Bizum shareholders. This means there is likely to be heavy promotion of that scheme when it arrives in Spain, but it also means other markets should take note: it is quite possible the wallet’s development will be shaped by Bizum’s success.
Responding to the continued success of real-time payments means greater volumes of transactions for Spain’s banks to process, which gives rise to operational and technology challenges. But the proliferation of use cases for real-time payments via Bizum is a challenge with potentially greater implications — and opportunities. These transactions give banks ever more granular, micro-level information about how their customers live (apartment-sharers splitting rental payments using Bizum, for example) that could herald a new phase of customized banking: real-time personalization of services.
Banks must develop payments modernization roadmaps that go beyond the speeds and feeds of payment processing. They must reflect what it takes to succeed as a data-driven business: agile cloud-based systems and advanced data management/mining processes that can support AI use cases. These are the topics that are increasingly coming up in conversations with banks and financial institutions.
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
F5 Yr CAGR
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/skimmed in person
Card details stolen online
Share of Volumes by Payments Instrument
- Paper-based payments
- Electronic payments
- Real-time payments
Real-Time Payments Volume and Its Share in Overall Non-Paper-Based Transactions, 2015-26f
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