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The Council of Latvijas Banka adopted several legal acts today, introducing new functionalities to instant payments in order to provide innovative financial services.

The adopted amendments enable credit institutions and other financial service providers to use identifiers other than the mobile phone numbers, linked to a customer's account (e.g. payment cards, e-mail addresses), as well as provide for a more efficient use of the Proxy Registry "Instant Links" in instant mobile payments.

"Participation Procedure in Latvijas Banka's Electronic Clearing System" has been amended to enable credit institutions, i.e. the users of instant and traditional payment services provided by Latvijas Banka's Electronic Clearing System (the EKS system), to participate in the EKS system as a bank group with multiple payment accounts and multiple credit institution codes (BICs).

The amendments also provide for the connection to TARGET Instant Payment Settlement (TIPS) service, thereby improving the reachability of the EKS system's instant payment service users across the whole Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA). Currently, already 2057 payment service providers from 20 European countries provide instant payment services to their customers. In Latvia, instant payments are available to more than 90% of credit institution customers, and the connection to TIPS will broaden opportunities for individuals and businesses to exchange instant payments with the customers of credit institutions of other euro area countries.

In addition, the Council of Latvijas Banka introduced amendments to the "Procedure for Using the IBAN Register of Latvijas Banka", inter alia renaming it as the "Procedure for Using the Proxy Registry "Instant Links" of Latvijas Banka" and improving the functionality of the Registry.

All legal amendments will take effect on 15 April 2019.

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

The instant payment infrastructure, developed and maintained by Latvijas Banka, has been operating since 28 August 2017. Instant payments have become a routine payment service and credit institution customers no longer have to worry about managing to complete their interbank payments within the credit institutions' business hours: instant payments can be executed within a flash of an instant, on any day and any hour of the day.

According to the statistics compiled by Latvijas Banka, about 3.3 million instant payments with the total value of 650 million euro have been executed since the introduction of the instant payment service.

The volume of instant payments has surged since October 2018 when Swedbank AS started to offer this service to its customers. At this stage, already over 90% of the customers of Latvian credit institutions have access to instant payments. Instant payments are executed by Latvijas Banka, and this service is also offered by Swedbank AS, AS Citadele banka and AS SEB banka to their respective customers. Moreover, instant payments can be used for transfers to a number of euro area banks (for the list of those banks, see https://www.ebaclearing.eu/services/instant-payments/participants/).

The Baltic States and Latvia in particular are the euro area leaders in the implementation of instant payments. With instant payments continuing to develop, credit institutions and financial sector companies can soon be expected to start offering their customers an option to execute instant payments based on their mobile phone number only, without having to enter the customer account's IBAN for every payment. Latvijas Banka maintains the Proxy Registry "Instant Links" storing the links between the customer account IBANs and mobile phone numbers. The Proxy Registry "Instant Links" also stores other identifiers linked to customer accounts (e.g. payment cards, e-mail addresses) that can be used for making instant payments. The Proxy Registry "Instant Links" was established as a component of the EKS system and can be used for executing instant payments as well as other payments, including intra-credit institution payments, more easily.

The development of instant payments will help consumers significantly save their time and provide various ways of better managing their finances, including an opportunity to use instant payments at points of sale and in online shopping or e-commerce in the future. This innovative financial service will also support the development of the financial sector and improve the competitiveness of businesses operating in this sector.