A meal paid at the restaurant on Friday noon that appears on your bank account only during the night from Wednesday to Thursday? Possible. Just as it is possible for another payment to be posted in less than 24 hours. However, at the time of the internet and the immediacy of the information, this delay seems very long! A behind-the-scenes survey of credit card payments, with the assistance of cBanque subscribers.

Is the delay of appearance of a credit card payment on his account more or less long depending on the bank concerned? Are online banks better or worse than large networks on this point? These were the starting questions of our investigation. To answer them, we asked our subscribers to give us a history of their operations. Among all the answers, 14 people played the game by providing usable data, for nearly thirty payments made in 11 different banks (1) .

The balance sheet? We have collected very specific information on the operation of certain institutions, such as the Banque Postale where transactions are recorded and visible in the online account statement every day between 22:30 and 23:00. More generally, we found that, all banks combined, a transaction that appears the day of payment is possible, but that it remains rather rare.

No transactions during the weekend
The end-to-end results show a large proportion of transactions recorded the day after the payment (J +1). When it appears on the online statement of account after 3 or 4 days, it is because it is made during or on the eve of the weekend. Because the banking services concerned only work on weekdays, excluding public holidays. Not counting the Saturday and Sunday, almost half of the payments appear on the balance D + 2 evening, the other half is accounted for J +1. However, based on our panel, it is not possible to establish a rule for different banks.

At the shop: only at the end of the day
Why is there a day of difference between payments, without any significant explanation? The call to witnesses, on the forum cBanque, gave us an initial response, confirmed by the banks interviewed and the bank card manager (GIE CB): a first period, notable, is to be charged to the merchant itself. Thus, contrary to what one might believe, when the electronic payment terminal (TPE) – the box managing the card payment – displays “payment accepted”, it is not immediately communicated to the merchant’s bank , nor to that of the customer. Transactions are recorded in the TPE until the “cash back”, made at the end of the day, either automatically or via manual manipulation. It is only then that the merchant’s bank becomes aware of the existence of these payments. According to the regularity of this operation and according to its time,

There remain exceptions. According to GIE Cartes Bancaires, some merchants carry out several cash discounts per day. This is the case of the SNCF, for example. But it is impossible to say that the speed of the transaction depends on the size of the company concerned or the number of transactions. Thus, with some exceptions, in hypermarkets and supermarkets in general, the rule remains according to the GIE CB an automatic cash register for the server managing the boxes of the entire store.

There is an enigma with regard to the merchant’s step: why do not the banks display the new balance on the basis of the “current authorization” displayed by TPE, since the customer’s bank is questioned at this stage of the transaction? payment ? On the one hand because the authorization is actually asked to the bank of the buyer only about three times out of ten . On the other hand, according to Société Générale, the bank only takes into account the subsequent information, once the transaction is actually made, more reliable. However, La Banque Postale assured us that it used this information to indicate a “have available” on the customer space on the internet.

Compensation between banks finalized at J +1 or +2
Following the merchant’s “cash back”, his bank sends the information to the interbank clearing house. She is the bridge between the merchant’s bank and the customer’s bank. Thus, each bank has only one interlocutor, responsible for synchronizing all operations. Called “Core” system, this clearing house is managed by the company STET (Technology Systems Exchange and Processing), located in La Défense and owned by the five major French banks (2) .

How long does this compensation take? Contacted, the director of STET, Jean-Pic Berry, did not wish to answer our questions, a subject “which is delicate”! According to our information collected from experts in electronic banking, the compensation process is finalized 1 to 2 days after payment, including the merchant time. It is impossible to have more precise data but, according to the GIE CB, there is no difference in the delay depending on the bank of the cardholder.

There is an alternative to shorten this time. If the merchant’s bank is the same as that of the buyer, the transaction does not necessarily require a passage through the STET-Core system: it all depends on whether the bank in question is able to handle transactions via a “factory” internal payment. Major groups such as Crédit Agricole or Crédit Mutuel-CIC use their regional banks for example.

And payments between some banks may also escape the STET-Core system. Example: La Banque Postale and Société Générale have a common electronic payment platform, Transactis. In concrete terms, a payment made by a Banque Postale customer to a merchant with an account at Société Générale does not go through the STET-Core system. Consequence: the delay is shorter, leading a priori a counting D + 1 or the same day.

Processing in the customer’s bank: maximum 24 hours
In the classic case, that is to say that of a payment in France with an immediate debit card (70% of the cards of the CB network) passing through the STET-Core system, the transaction is “compensated and received” to “D + 1 or even D + 2” according to the Banque Postale. This information arrives in a “clearing flow” at the customer’s bank during the day and will only be actually posted, and therefore visible in the online account statement, in the evening. Like the end-of-day cash-back provided by the merchant, the bank does not perform its computer processing of posting and settlement of transactions until the end of the day.

According to a spokesman for Société Générale, the payment is posted at “maximum 24 hours” after the receipt of the flow, “depending on the arrival time of the compensation message”. Note: some banks, like the SocGen, show payments “in process” posted on the internet from the compensation received.

Balance sheet: a maximum of 3 working days maximum
Let’s do the accounts: the merchant informs his bank of the payment within a period of up to several hours; the merchant’s bank transmits to the clearing house; the clearing message then reaches the customer’s bank no later than 2 days after payment; This is followed by the computer processing in the customer’s bank, carried out no more than 24 hours after receiving the message. In the end, a delay of 3 days, excluding weekends, appears as an extreme. Conversely, at best, if the bank of the customer and the merchant is the same, a payment can appear the same day, an advantage that can not benefit customers of banks not affiliated to a large network.

Remains an element to take into account, more subjective. Bank users often feel a significant amount of time between payment and its appearance on the balance, at a time when immediacy is the rule with the internet. Why ? On the one hand because of weekends and holidays, which lengthen the time. On the other hand because of the late appearance of the payment at the J +1. Like the Banque Postale, where these transactions appear at 22 hours past, the banks record transactions on current accounts at the end of the day. From where the regular impression to see appearing its payments with several days of shift.