"This is a big step forward in introducing instant payments throughout Europe. It is an important innovation, as previously transfers of money between different euro area countries took a relatively long period of time. Moreover, it was impossible to make a transfer on weekends and holidays. As of now, a transfer, for example, between Germany and Latvia will happen in a matter of seconds", says Harijs Ozols, Member of the Board of Latvijas Banka. "Today instant payments are being launched throughout Europe and are gradually becoming available also between the customers of two major Latvian commercial banks, JSC Citadele banka and JSC SEB banka, which connected to the RT1 system today. Customers will no longer have to wait for hours to get their money, transactions will be completed within a flash of an instant, on any day and any hour of the day."

Kaspars Cikmačs, Member of the Board of JSC Citadele banka: "As of 21 November, the customers of Citadele banka will be able to make instant payments to many European banks and to SEB banka accounts in Latvia. The initial limit for an instant payment is set at EUR 30. This limit will be gradually raised to reach EUR 15 000 which is the maximum limit for instant payments. The instant payments of Citadele banka customers will be automated, they will be available from both the internet bank and the bank's mobile application. The fee applied to instant payments will be the same as the one applied to regular payments, as we want our customers to benefit from the advantages of the new system and enjoy fast interbank transfers."

Arnis Škapars, Member of the Board of JSC SEB banka: "About 60% of the payments made by SEB banka customers are intrabank payments and these are completed immediately. According to our estimates, over 98% of payments will be completed immediately once Latvia's major banks have connected to the instant payments system. We are happy to be among the frontrunners offering their customers an opportunity to make fast money transfers to other banks in Europe. As of today, the customers of SEB banka in Latvia and Estonia can already receive instant payments from other banks that have connected to the instant payments system. We are also running parallel tests on making instant payments: this service will be available to our customers as of the beginning of December. Initially, the customers of SEB banka will be able to make instant payments via the internet bank and the mobile application, but the service will be also available through other electronic channels soon thereafter."

JSC Swedbank, the largest Latvian commercial bank in terms of the value and volume of customer payments, also intends to offer this service as of the beginning of 2018, following the completion of infrastructure and functionality tests.

Instant payments are cash transfers provided 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, including holidays and weekends. Customer payments are executed within a few seconds and the money received can be reused immediately. This is a very significant change as previously payments between European banks were only available on business days and a transfer took several hours.

The electronic clearing system (EKS) of Latvijas Banka has been providing an opportunity for Latvian credit institutions to offer instant payments to their customers since August. JSC Citadele banka was the first to connect to the instant payments system of Latvijas Banka.

Latvijas Banka organises and maintains the payment infrastructure in Latvia, including two automated payment systems helping to ensure interbank settlements in euro. TARGET2-Latvija is one of the component systems of the Trans-European Automated Real-time Gross Settlement Express Transfer system, whereas the EKS is used for the processing of retail interbank payments, including instant payments.

In 2016, TARGET2-Latvija processed 429.2 thousand payments totalling 235.1 billion euro, whereas the EKS system handled 40.3 million payments with the total value of 54.0 billion euro. In the first half of 2017, TARGET2-Latvija processed 225.3 thousand payments totalling 116.1 billion euro, whereas the EKS system handled 20.9 million payments with the total value of 26.7 billion euro. More detailed information is available at:https://www.bank.lv/statistika/maksajumu-sist-statistika/starpbanku-maksajumu-sistemu-statistika.

Latvijas Banka, acting in the public and economic interest, carries out several tasks significant for each and every inhabitant, financial markets and the public at large:
participates in the formulation and implementation of the euro area's monetary policy;
issues cash in Latvia and participates in ensuring the cash circulation process in the euro area;
discharges the function of the central national currency authentication centre;
maintains the interbank payment systems' infrastructure and promotes their smooth operation;
manages the foreign reserves and other financial investments;
acts as the financial agent of Latvia's government and provides financial services to other market participants;
compiles and publishes financial, monetary statistics and balance of payments statistics;
maintains and develops the Credit Register;
acts as an advisor to the Parliament and Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Latvia on monetary policy issues and other issues related to Latvijas Banka's operation.

Latvijas Banka promotes analysis and research of macroeconomic and financial issues, thereby laying a secure foundation for professional activities in these areas. The role of the leading industry expert helps Latvijas Banka raise public awareness of the development of the economy and the monetary system, the current situation and the economic policy being pursued. Latvijas Banka takes an active part in educating the general public on various economic topics.