belgium

Europe

In 2019, Belgium launched SCT Inst, a pan-European scheme which provides real-time capabilities for banks, P2P, billers and merchant payments. The scheme has seen strong adoption thus far, setting the stage for forecasts of robust future growth.

IP within Belgium are processed by the Center for Exchange and Clearing (CEC), the Belgian automated interbank payments system for retail payments. In 2013, the CEC moved to a new payments platform, developed and managed by STET, which is one of the largest clearing and settlement systems in Europe.

SCT Inst enables customers to transfer money to accounts at participating banks in the payments network, for both individual and business transactions. SCT Inst can also be accessed across different channels, such as online and mobile banking, to enable P2P, C2B, B2C and B2B payments directly between accounts. Funds are settled in near-real time, with recipient banks in Belgium required to credit amounts to customers within five seconds. There are no standard transaction limits set in Belgium and banks are allowed to set their own limits.

Timeline

MARKET DEVELOPMENT

ACCEPTANCE
  • Consumers
  • Banks
  • Merchants
  • Billers

TOTAL PARTICIPANTS

20

Population banking level

2.7

Number of debit, credit and charge cards per adult

109

Index to global average

F

Fully banked

Key statistics

2019

IP launch year

Immediate payments types

Single instance, bulk payment

Initiation & authorization

Bank account

ISO 20022

Message standard

Transactions

64M

2019

847m

2024f

67.9%

F5 Yr CAGR

25%

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

Share of volumes by payments instrument

Transactions

2019
2024

Spend (USD)

2019
2024
  • Paper-based payments
  • Electronic payments
  • Immediate payments

Immediate payments volume and its share in overall NON-PAPER-BASED transactions, 2019-24f

% of total electronic payments transaction volume

Insight

It may be one of the newest countries to adopt SCT Inst, but usage of IP is already catching on in Belgium, and this growth is expected to continue in the coming years.

Most growth will likely come from cannibalization of paper-based payments. As of 2019, these payments represent more than a third of all transaction volumes, but less than 1% of transaction values. This suggests these transactions are day-to-day, low-value consumer payments — providing the ideal use case for consumers to substitute IP and spike volumes further.

Finally, as more companies adopt/offer IP within Belgium, consumers will be presented with additional occasions to pay instantly. If the initiation methods for IP multiply beyond the current singular option, so too will consumer adoption, as paying with IP will be both easy and convenient.

ACI’s take

As part of the European Union, Belgium is addressing the balance between the PSD2 regulation mandate for realtime payments with the need to create demand among its ecosystem participants.

The launch of IP capabilities within a single clearing and settlement mechanism (STET) to connect to both pan-European real-time systems (EBA RT1 and ECB TIPS) improves reachability, lowers the cost of entry and accelerates speed to market for participants — in turn driving adoption.

Furthermore, STET enables the ecosystem beyond banks, bringing IP to merchants and fintechs. Strong growth is indicated within the current parameters, but as open banking takes off in Europe under PSD2 and new payment initiation methods appear, the upward trend could accelerate rapidly.

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