Hungary's banks start testing instant-payments system

BUDAPEST, Jan 3 (Reuters) - Hungary’s commercial banks have begun a test phase of a domestic instant-payment system expected to go live on July 1, the clearing house operator GIRO said on Thursday.

Under the new system, which has been in development since 2017, domestic bank transfers worth up to 10 million forints ($35,306) will be settled within five seconds, seven days a week, it said.

The central bank, which had proposed the shift to the new infrastructure, said it could lead to a more widespread use of electronic and mobile payments, providing an alternative to the widespread use of cash transactions.

The system will enable bank transfers to mobile phone numbers, providing an easier alternative to the current 24-digit bank account numbers, GIRO said.

The top banks active in Hungary include domestic OTP Bank , Austrian Erste Group Bank and Raiffeisen , Belgian KBC Groep, as well as Italian UniCredit and Intesa SanPaolo.

$1 = 283.24 forints Reporting by Gergely Szakacs, editing by Larry King