TARGET2 – Balance

TARGET2 is a payment system that enables the speedy and final settlement of national and cross-border payments in central bank money. An average of around 350,000 payments with a value of about € 1.7 trillion is processed using TARGET2 each working day. During a whole year, TARGET2 settles about 90 million payments with a value of about € 430 trillion. These payment transactions can take a wide variety of forms, such as payment for a goods delivery, the purchase or sale of a security, the granting or repayment of a loan or the depositing of funds at a bank, among many others.

TARGET2, the Eurosystem’s high- value payment system, may run on a single shared platform (SSP), but legally speaking, it is made up of multiple component systems operated by the national central banks (NCBs) and the ECB.

Thus, both the Bundesbank and the Banque de France will be involved in a cross- border payment transaction made in settlement of a German export to France, for instance. That transaction begins when the French importer’s commercial bank in France debits the purchase amount from the importer’s account and submits a credit transfer in TARGET2 to the German exporter’s commercial bank in Germany. The Banque de France then debits the amount from the TARGET2 account it operates for the French commercial bank and posts a liability owed to the Bundesbank. For its part, the Bundesbank posts a claim on the Banque de France and credits the amount to the German commercial bank’s TARGET2 account. The transaction is concluded when the commercial bank credits the amount in question to the account it operates for the German exporter.

At the end of the business day, all the intraday bilateral liabilities and claims are automatically cleared as part of a multilateral netting procedure and transferred to the ECB via novation, leaving a single NCB liability to, or claim on, the ECB.

Viewed in isolation, the transaction used as an example above leaves the Banque de France with a liability to the ECB and the Bundesbank with a claim on the ECB at the end of the business day. These claims on, or liabilities to, the ECB are generally referred to as TARGET2 balances.

The TARGET2 balance in the Bundesbank’s balance sheet is therefore mainly attributable to cross-border transactions which involve banks that participate in TARGET2 via the Bundesbank (several banks from other EU countries participate in TARGET2 via the Bundesbank in cases where their own national central banks do not participate in TARGET2). On the one hand, it is affected by credit institutions’ operations on the money and capital markets and, on the other, by transactions carried out by the non-banking sector, which generates payments via the banking system.