Instant Payment

Instant Payment

When Every Second Counts

The New Normal

The payee’s account is credited and the payer’s account is debited virtually simultaneously – in less than ten seconds, regardless of the time of day or day of the week. The funds are available immediately, and there is full transparency about the expenditure at all times. That's instant payment, the new normal – the timely answer to the ongoing digitalization of economy and society.

Instant payment is already a reality in many countries. In order to make it possible in Switzerland as well, SIX and the Swiss National Bank launched the new generation of the central payment infrastructure – the “SIC5” platform – on 17 November 2023. With the launch of the fifth generation of the SIC system, the prerequisites for the immediate and final value transfer of cashless customer payments were created, thus laying the foundation for instant payments in Switzerland. With regard to the participation of banks, the Swiss National Bank decided in June 2021 to make the acceptance of such payments mandatory for financial institutions (see SNB media conference). As of August 2024, the biggest Swiss banks must be able to process instant payments, with the remaining banks following suit by 2026.

You will find answers to the following questions

Special features of instant payment

About Instant Payment

How does instant payment function, and who is it suitable for?

Instant payment is characterized by speed and immediate execution around the clock: The payer’s account is debited immediately and almost simultaneously with the funds being made available to the payee’s account. Speed alone is not necessarily a compelling quality – the focus is on the specific benefit that can be achieved through this new speed. 

The advantages of instant payment include the following:

  • The payer can receive an immediate confirmation of payment from their bank.
  • The payee has immediate access to the money.
  • Neither party is exposed to credit risk, as the debit and credit are simultaneous and final.
  • Both parties have an up-to-date account balance at all times. This makes planning and budgeting easier.

There are further advantages for companies (business customers). Thanks to instant payment, they have direct access to their incoming payments and thus benefit from significantly improved cash flow management. The result: greater scope for process automation, simplified liquidity management, and reduced settlement risk.

These and many more examples demonstrate: Both the payer and the payee benefit from instant payment in many ways. Speed and immediate execution eliminate uncertainty and credit risk for all parties especially financial institutions.

How does it differ from current payments?

The difference between a conventional credit transfer and an instant payment is striking. With a conventional transfer within Switzerland, the money is “in transit” for longer, until it is credited after a few hours, the next day or even later – depending on whether the transfer is triggered during the day or at night, on a weekend, on a weekday or on a holiday. With an instant payment, on the other hand, it doesn’t matter what time or day of the week the payer initiates the transfer – the payment is always processed in ten seconds or less.

New players in payment traffic often use solutions that resemble instant payments. These solutions may match the definition of instant payment, but they do not have to. Immediate notification following a payment does not necessarily mean that the payment has already been fully processed.

It is important to note the difference between clearing and settlement. Clearing means that the payee’s bank has accepted the transaction and agreed to process it. Settlement is the harder currency: the banks involved actually process the transaction between themselves. This means that the money is available to the payee, and there is no counterparty risk.

When will instant payment be available in Switzerland?

Together with the Swiss National Bank, SIX has developed the new infrastructure for processing instant payments. This went live in November 2023, and banks are currently being onboarded.

Receipt of instant payments will become mandatory for Swiss financial institutions in two phases:

  • from August 2024 for larger banks
  • from the end of 2026 for the remaining banks.

By late summer 2024, around 60 banks, which together cover more than 95% of customer payments in Switzerland, will be able to receive instant payments and process them in seconds

Switzerland: Instant Payment Will Become the Standard


Read the post in our trade magazine PAY.

PAY is the SIX trade magazine for payment transactions. Receive relevant information on the latest trends shaping payment transactions.


PAY Magazine

Comparison with Other Countries

Is it already standard abroad?

In 30 European countries, around 2,300 banks and payment service providers are currently able to process instant payments, which corresponds to 63% of all institutions, although there are major differences between the individual countries. The share of instant payments, or more precisely SEPA Instant Credit Transfer (SCT Inst), in all conventional credit transfers (SCT) is around 17% – and the trend is increasing (source: European Payments Council). Nevertheless, instant payments have not yet become the standard.  

Due to the hesitant acceptance of instant payments, the Council of the European Union adopted the Regulation on Instant Payments on February 26 (see Council adopts regulation on instant payments). Payment service providers, such as banks that offer SEPA credit transfers, will have to offer consumers and businesses the ability to send and receive SEPA instant payments. Specifically, payment service providers will have to provide a service for receiving instant payments by 9 January 2025 and a service for sending instant payments by 9 October 2025. In addition, the Regulation stipulates that the charges for instant payments may not be higher than the charges for standard credit transfers (source: Regulation (EU) 2024/886).

Why do we need instant payment in Switzerland?

As an innovative financial center, Switzerland has some catching up to do and must not allow itself to be overtaken or left behind by other countries. For financial institutions, payment transactions are the most frequent point of contact with their customers – a locational advantage that must be preserved.

The Swiss National Bank therefore wants to do everything in its power to ensure that instant payment becomes the new normal in Switzerland as well. This requires both the expansion of the technical infrastructure and the participation of the banks in the new procedure.

The new generation of the central Swiss payment system with instant payment lays the foundation for future innovations in the financial center. It was made possible by the close cooperation between the Swiss National Bank, SIX and the financial institutions, and reflects their strong commitment to the future viability of Swiss payment traffic. The Swiss financial center is convinced that instant payment will become the new normal in electronic payment traffic in the medium term. 

Marketing Material

Here you can find our marketing materials to inform your customers about instant payment.

Missing something? Please don’t hesitate to e-mail us at

The factsheet sums up all the most important information and key data on instant payment.

factsheet instant payment

The FAQ contains answers to the most important and frequently asked questions about instant payment. The document will be added to and updated on an ongoing basis.

The text modules provide templates that can be used in customer communications as needed.

The explanatory video promotes a better understanding of instant payment among the general public.

A corresponding figurative mark was designed for the recognition of instant payment in Switzerland, which can be used independently or in conjunction with the name in German, English, French or Italian. The figurative mark is available for download in various formats and colors.

Figurative mark in desired color

This online tool allows you to generate a figurative mark (with or without the naming) in the color of your choice. Enter the hex code or RGB value for the desired color and download the image mark as SVG (vector format) and/or PNG (pixel format) file.


Key visuals and illustrations from SIX are available for download and may be used in connection with the topic of instant payment.

key visuals instant payment
illustration instant payment

All rights to the material provided are held by SIX. The marketing material (including images) may only be used in connection with the marketing of instant payment.