Account-to-Account payments (A2A) a game changer for digital transactions

Account-to-Account payments (A2A): a game changer for digital transactions?

28 May 2024 in Blog

by Ludovic Plisson

Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!

Account-to-Account payments (A2A) are gaining momentum globally. As digital payments evolve, A2A presents a significant shift away from traditional payment methods, including credit cards. This article explores what A2A payments are, their advantages, challenges, and their potential impact on the credit card industry, with case studies from various regions worldwide.


What are Account-to-Account payments (A2A)?

Account-to-Account payments involve the direct transfer of funds between bank accounts without intermediaries like credit card networks. This method is facilitated by real-time payment systems. These systems enable instantaneous or near-instantaneous fund transfers.

For example, in the Netherlands, iDEAL is a popular A2A payment method. It leverages the SEPA Instant Credit Transfer (SCT Inst) system. This system allows for quick and secure transfers between European bank accounts. Additionally, the European Payments Initiative (EPI) aims to create a unified payment solution across Europe. This initiative further enhances the efficiency and reach of A2A payments within the region.

Local banking authorities set up these systems for several reasons:

  • Enhancing transaction speed: Real-time payment systems ensure transactions are processed instantly, improving efficiency for consumers and businesses.
  • Improving security: Direct transfers reduce the risk of fraud and enhance the overall security of financial transactions.
  • Cost-effectiveness: By eliminating intermediaries, transaction costs are significantly reduced, benefiting both banks and their customers. 

> For more details on how to save on payment processing fees, refer to our Money-Saving Guide.

  • Boosting financial inclusion: Real-time payments provide accessible financial services to a broader population, including those without credit cards.
  • Stimulating economic growth: Faster payment processing supports economic activity by improving cash flow for businesses and individuals.
  • Meeting consumer demand: Modern consumers expect quick and convenient payment options, and real-time systems meet this need.


Challenges of A2A payments

  • Infrastructure requirements: Implementing real-time payment systems requires significant technological infrastructure and investment.
  • Regulatory compliance: Ensuring compliance with local and international regulations can be complex.
  • Adoption and integration: Encouraging widespread adoption among consumers and businesses can be challenging. Integration with existing financial systems may be required.
  • Security concerns: While direct transfers reduce some risks, new security measures must be in place to protect against cyber threats.


Global adoption of Account-to-Account payments (A2A)

Discover a comprehensive overview of real-time payment systems worldwide in our meticulously curated Notion table. This valuable resource provides insights into the various RTP systems implemented across different regions. It highlights their unique features and adoption rates. Dive into the table here and explore the global landscape (121 RTPs Worldwide!) of real-time payments.

Account-to-Account payments: Contribute to our growing library of Real-Time Payment Systems!

Contribute to our growing library of Real-Time Payment Systems!


Case studies by region

Account-to-Account payments: RTPS in America

RTPS in America

LATAM: 🇧🇷 Brazil’s PIX system

Brazil’s PIX system, launched by the Central Bank of Brazil in November 2020, enables instant payments 24/7 through direct account transfers, significantly reducing the reliance on cash and traditional card payments. By October 2021, PIX had registered over 118 million users, and monthly transactions exceeded 1 billion.


Account-to-Account payments: RTPS in Europe and MENA

RTPS in Europe and MENA

Europe: 🇬🇧 UK’s Faster Payments Service (FPS)

The UK’s Faster Payments Service (FPS), introduced in 2008, allows for near-instantaneous transfers between bank accounts. This system facilitates millions of transactions daily, providing an efficient alternative to traditional banking methods and supporting the growth of fintech innovations like Open Banking.


MENA: 🇦🇪 UAE’s Instant Payment Platform (IPP)

The UAE’s Instant Payment Platform (IPP), launched in early 2023, enables real-time fund transfers between accounts within the country. The platform aims to reduce transaction costs, improve financial inclusion, and support the UAE’s vision of a cashless economy.


Account-to-Account payments: RTPS in Africa

RTPS in Africa

Africa: 🇳🇬 Nigeria’s NIBSS Instant Payment (NIP)

Nigeria’s NIBSS Instant Payment (NIP) platform, launched in 2011, provides real-time payment capabilities across Nigeria’s banking network, significantly enhancing transaction efficiency and fostering the growth of the digital economy.


Account-to-Account payments: RTPS in APAC


APAC: 🇮🇳 India’s Unified Payments Interface (UPI)

India’s Unified Payments Interface (UPI), launched in 2016, enables seamless money transfers between bank accounts via mobile devices. By March 2023, UPI processed over 8 billion transactions monthly, becoming an integral part of India’s digital payment landscape and promoting financial inclusion.


Implications for the Credit Card Industry

The rise of Account-to-Account payments presents both challenges and opportunities for the credit card industry. A balanced and strategic approach is needed to adapt to the evolving financial landscape.

  • Revenue impact: As consumers and businesses increasingly opt for A2A payments, there may be a reduced reliance on credit card networks, potentially affecting revenue streams derived from transaction fees. This shift necessitates a reevaluation of traditional revenue models within the credit card sector.
  • Market adaptation: To maintain their competitive edge, credit card companies may need to innovate by focusing on value-added services. Enhancements such as robust rewards programs, improved credit offerings, and personalized customer experiences can help balance the impact of A2A payments and retain customer loyalty. For example, the implementation of network tokens enhances the security and efficiency of recurring payments for card users. This is discussed in our Money-Saving Guide.
  • Increased competition: The proliferation of fintech companies offering A2A solutions introduces heightened competition in the payments landscape. A notable example is Variable Recurring Payments (VRPs), which provide a flexible and efficient way for users to manage recurring transactions through A2A payments. This approach, detailed in our article on VRPs as a Game Changer for PayFacs, highlights the ongoing evolution in payment solutions.

By embracing these changes and strategically adapting, the credit card industry can continue to play a vital role in the modern financial ecosystem.

This balance includes leveraging advanced technologies like network tokens for cards and VRPs for A2A payments to meet evolving customer needs with precision and efficiency.



Account-to-Account payments are poised to disrupt traditional payment methods, offering a cost-effective, secure, and efficient alternative. The credit card industry must adapt to these changes to remain competitive. As real-time payment systems continue to gain traction globally, the future of digital transactions looks increasingly geared towards direct account transfers, shaping a new era of financial connectivity and efficiency.


Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!