Faster corporate payments – OP first in Finland to enable real-time payments from businesses’ ledgers

OP’s customers have been able to receive real-time SEPA instant credit transfers since April 2019. Now in September 2020, corporate payments become even faster as OP enables real-time payment in the Web Services channel, the most popular payment channel among businesses. Payment data sent from businesses’ financial management software can then be managed in real time. It means that businesses’ urgent payments, such as customer refunds, can be paid immediately on recipients’ accounts.

The SEPA Instant Credit Transfer (SCT Inst) scheme enables the execution of euro credit transfers in seconds between the participating banks. On 22 September 2020, SEPA instant credit transfers will be available for OP’s corporate customers on Web Services, the banking connection channel for businesses. This enables real-time management of payment data – such as purchase invoices – sent from businesses’ ledgers. Real-time execution has already been possible for individual payments that businesses make either on op.fi for corporate customers or on OP Business mobile, if the recipients’ banks are participating in the SCT Inst scheme.

“OP is the first bank in Finland to start real-time management of payments sent by businesses through Web Services which is currently businesses’ most popular payment service channel. From the very start, we saw that real-time transfers may improve the efficiency of businesses’ operations and cash position and enable them to provide faster and thus better service to their customers,” says Antti Karhu, who heads OP’s Payment Services.

In 2019, total outgoing payments transferred by OP amounted to 917.5 billion euros, while the number of outgoing SEPA credit transfers came to nearly 450 million. This accounts for some 42% of the total in Finland. The majority of the total euro value is made up by businesses’ payments, and 85% of them are sent through the Web Services channel. The change speeds up payments for many OP’s corporate customers.

To put it simply, to businesses real-time payment transfer means that payments arrive on their recipients’ accounts faster than before. Currently, corporate payments sent as a file transfer reach the recipient accounts in other banks either later on the same day or only the following banking day.

“Now a business will be able to reduce the number of its payment accounts because it no longer needs an account with all bank groups for the sake of speed. Another major gain for businesses is the ability to send payments that reach their recipients immediately. This is particularly important regarding urgent payments, such as insurance compensations, customer refunds or individual wage payments. Real-time payments also enable a business to free up customer credit limit granted by a supplier to make supplementary orders and thereby speed up deliveries,” says Hanna Äijälä, Business Lead of OP’s Payment Services.

Real-time payments will be automatically available to OP’s customers and will not require any action. In addition to businesses’ mass payments, real-time transfer is available also for individual payments sent through the Web Services channel.

“To complement the Web Services channel, last year OP introduced a series of new and flexible API solutions for fully real-time transfers. The API solutions enable businesses to connect real-time payment transfers and account transactions information in their internal financial management and other systems. Our API solutions also offer new opportunities for businesses’ payment transactions management, such as for refunding of incorrect payments,” says Äijälä.

“Consumers are now expecting fast trading and purchasing and the rapid availability of services. That’s why businesses should make the most of real-time payments,” Äijälä continues.