Making Hungary's payments faster and more secure

April 14, 2022

When Hungary looked to make a leap in the real-time payment space, Mastercard and ACI were on hand to deliver a solution that made payments faster, simpler and more secure. 

Real-time payments have transformed how millions of users pay and transfer money, with nations around the world seeking to adopt solutions that benefit consumers, businesses and financial institutions. Looking to leapfrog their European counterparts and move on from legacy technology that meant payments could still take an hour to process, Hungary worked with Mastercard and ACI to develop a real-time payment solution that could ensure payments happen in seconds, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. 

With the goal of increasing the efficiency of domestic payments and increasing the competitiveness of the country’s payment market, Mastercard Payment Services (MPS) began work in 2018, collaborating with GIRO, a Hungarian national clearing house, to implement real-time payments software that let users benefit from faster, simpler and more convenient payments. Benefits include features like replacing account numbers with an alias like a mobile phone number or QR code, making it easier to pay and transfer money. 

At the same time, real-time payments software providers ACI worked with Hungarian banks OTP and Erste to integrate gateway payment technology for them to use — an innovative, scalable and cost-effective payment solution, which meets regulatory standards and provides a strong platform for future growth. 

Together, Mastercard and ACI, with GIRO and the banks achieved an ambitious nationwide launch on March 2, 2020. 

300 million
real-time payment transactions by June 2022

The impact has been clear. One million transactions were completed in the first three days and 300 million transactions have been completed by June 2022. Average payment times have dropped from an hour to less than five seconds, with 75% of Hungary’s GIRO transactions now being routed through ACI’s new enterprise payments platform — a value of $117 billion so far. 

“The collaboration between Mastercard and GIRO has not only meant payments are now completed faster, it’s also made them simpler and more convenient,” said Dr. Selmeczi-Kovács Zsolt, chief executive officer of GIRO. “The new GIRO Instant Payments has brought about real change in Hungary for society, people, and the financial services environment and we look forward to facilitating new and innovative products in the future.” 

"The new GIRO Instant Payments has brought about real change in Hungary for society, people, and the financial services environment."
Dr. Selmeczi-Kovács Zsolt, chief executive officer of GIRO

In 2021, Mastercard and ACI announced a strategic partnership to bring best-in-class central infrastructure, payments localisation and access solutions to central banks, scheme operators, financial institutions, payment service providers, and other organisations launching real-time payment initiatives around the world.  

“As countries and regions modernize their payments systems, people, businesses and economies around the world are increasingly experiencing the benefits, choice and of real-time payments,” said Peter Reynolds, executive vice president for Real Time Payments at Mastercard. 

“By working in close collaboration with ACI in Hungary, we were together able to create a system that can now process payments in seconds rather than hours, while driving choice and innovation for market participants and end customers alike.” 

Together, Mastercard and ACI have the expertise, experience and assets to support regulators and operators during the transition to systems that make payments faster and safer for all.