updated 2:11 PM CET, Oct 31, 2023

Citi launches SEPA Instant Payments in Europe

Citi, the New York-headquartered bank with a global presence that many American expats rely on, has announced the launch of Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) Instant Payments services in Europe, a development that it says will increase its global instant payments offering.

Citi said its new SEPA Instant Payments facility "will provide clients with the ability to pay to, and receive from" other SEPA Instant participating banks that are located "anywhere within the 36-county SEPA zone."

"The offering allows SEPA Credit Transfers to be made within seconds, 24/7, and funds available to recipients immediately," Citi added, in unveiling the SEPA Instant Payments service last week.

Through the new offering, Citi clients can access Citi’s platforms, CitiConnect for Files, CitiConnect API and CitiDirect, for payment execution, Citi said.

What's more, in addition to SEPA Instant Payments, Citi said it's able to accommodate Instant Payments across 29 other markets globally, meaning that its Instant Payments capabilities can now reach more than 60 countries around the world.

Citi Treasury and Trade Solutions EMEA head of payments and receivables Mark McNulty said: “With our latest launch of SEPA Instant Payments in Europe, we have further expanded our market-leading Instant Payments proposition for payments to and from the SEPA zone.

“This capability can support new business models and ensure our clients can operate effectively in an increasingly real-time 24/7 digital economy.

"An exciting development, and yet another milestone for our payments business.”

'More relevant than ever'

In announcing the new SEPA Instant Payments service, Citi noted that that the ability to make instant payments had become "more relevant than ever" recently, "due to the rise in the e-commerce business and direct-to-consumer business models."

For Citi's corporate clients, meanwhile, the bank said the new service would mean "greater choice and flexibility in payment methods, with a frictionless and real-time payment instrument."

The bank's global head of Domestic Payments, Treasury and Trade Solutions, Elena Gomez, noted that the development coincided with "an increasing number of countries advanc[ing] their digital capabilities and introduc[ing] local instant payment schemes."

Introduced to simplify bank transfers 

The Single Euro Payments Area is a payment-integration initiative introduced by the European Union, in order to simplify euro-denominated bank transfers. The 36 SEPA area countries include the 27 EU member states as well as the four member states of the European Free Trade Association – Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland – and the UK.

Four additional jurisdictions – Andorra, Monaco, San Marino and Vatican City – also participate. 

According to the European Central Bank, SEPA Instant Payments take "no longer than one business day for electronic payment orders" and no longer than two business days for paper-based payment orders. 

ECB map of countries in the SEPA