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Instant Payment System Launches in Hungary

Péter Cseresnyés 2020.03.02.

A new instant payment system allowing for lightning-fast electronic money transfers, was launched at Hungarian banks on Monday at midnight. According to the first test results, the system is working properly with only a few minor problems, most of them only experienced in the first few hours.

By using the new system, recipients will receive money via bank transfers up to HUF 10 million within 5 seconds (instead of the previous 4 hours), 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Practically, this generally means 1-2 seconds, and if the transaction fails to complete within 20 seconds, it will be automatically rejected.

Another important new feature is that clients will also be able to use other, secondary forms of identification (phone number, e-mail) instead of long account numbers.

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However, pension payments will continue to be settled at night, while wage payments – generally group transfers – will still be processed during daytime hours. The system will soon expand to also include group transactions, which is expected to go live on September 1st.

The National Bank of Hungary (MNB) decided to introduce the new transfer scheme in early 2017 in hopes to increase the number of electronic transactions, in addition to the use of cash, for a much wider range of functions than at present. The new basic infrastructure, established in connection with the instant payment service, will also help create new innovative payment services faster and easier.

However, the new payment system has its risks, as the lightning-fast transaction could also make the life of scammers easier. As banks have much less time to stop a faulty transaction or one made with the deception of the clients, it is worth paying close attention at the start of a transfer.

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The overall first impressions of the new scheme are rather positive. Several news portals have tested the system, and apart from minor glitches during the first few hours, they have not encountered any serious problems. The most common issue was the delay in the successful transfer notification.

Originally, the National Bank set the deadline for the introduction of the instant money transfer system for July 1st, but later it had to be postponed at the request of the banks. Although the MNB and clearing house Giro, which provides the central infrastructure of the system, have completed the technical tasks laying the foundations for the system by the deadline, several banks failed to do so, which is why the launch was delayed 8 months.

Featured photo Noémi Bruzák/MTI