EU calls for comment on future of payments

The European Commission has published a green paper assessing the current card, internet and mobile payments landscape and is asking stakeholders to contribute their thoughts on how to ensure a modern, integrated payments environment can be implemented across Europe.

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EU: Seeking input on the future of payments in Europe by 11 April

A green paper designed to launch a broad consultation process with stakeholders on the future of payments in Europe has been published by the European Commission, the executive branch of the European Union.

The paper assesses the current card, internet and mobile payments landscape in Europe, identifies the gaps between the current situation and the vision of a fully integrated payments market and the barriers which have created these gaps.

“Carrying a virtual train ticket or repaying a friend with your mobile phone, buying your groceries online, paying with your debit card abroad — the way European citizens shop and pay is radically changing,” the European Commission’s announcement of the consultation explains. “A secure and transparent integrated payments environment throughout the EU could create more efficient, modern and safer means of payments — for the benefits of consumers, merchants and payment providers.”

“Europe has an opportunity to be at the cutting edge of what ‘making a payment’ could mean in the future,” says Michel Barnier, the EU’s internal market and services commissioner. “However, we will not be able to reach this goal with the current level of market fragmentation.

“Secure, efficient, competitive and innovative electronic payments are crucial for consumers, retailers and companies to fully enjoy the benefits of the single market as well as to drive the growth of e-commerce,” he explains. “The consultation we are launching today is fully in line with the Commission’s mandate focusing on growth and job creation and building on the achievements already made in the field of retail payments”.

“Inefficient payments systems within the European Union unduly raise transaction costs; undermine the global competitiveness of the European economy and limit its potential for growth,” adds EU vice president Joaquín Almunia. “Europe’s consumers, merchants and companies deserve payment services in tune with the 21st century: Transparent, with genuine value-added and making the best use of our technologies.”

The main issues identified in the paper concern:

  • Market access and entry for existing and new service providers
  • Payment security and data protection
  • Transparent and efficient pricing of payment services
  • Technical standardisation
  • Inter-operability between service providers

“An additional crucial issue, overarching all the aspects above, is the one of proper governance,” the announcement explains. “In other words, how can the remedies for the obstacles identified be best put in place so as to ensure that the benefits materialise in a reasonable time frame.”

The green paper can be downloaded from the EU website. Responses can be made until 11 April 2012 and, following analysis of the consultation feedback, the Commission will announce the next steps to be taken before the summer of 2012.

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