The European Central Bank (ECB) has created a new Euro Retail Payments Board (ERPB) to oversee integration of the bloc’s retail payments market in a post-single euro payments area (SEPA) environment. SEPA is due to fully replace national designation schemes by 1 February 2014.
The new entity replaces the SEPA Council and will be composed of seven representatives from the demand side – such as consumers, retailers and corporations – and seven from the supply side – banks and payment and e-money institutions. They will be joined by five representatives from the euro area national central banks and one from the non-euro area European Union (EU) national central banks.
The SEPA Council was established in the spring of 2010 for an initial period of three years following strong criticism of the SEPA governance structure and the lack of consultation with end-users. But industry, especially small and medium businesses and retailers as well as large corporates, have lobbied for more extensive involvement.
The ERPB’s work will consist mainly of identifying strategic issues and work priorities, including business practices, requirements and standards, and ensuring they are addressed. Particular attention will be paid to cross-border integration of the payments card market, and fostering innovation across the region.
It starts its work as the payments sector prepares for the 1 February deadline for full migration to SEPA credit transfers and SEPA direct debits (SCT/SDD) in the euro area.
“Retail payments are the backbone of the real economy,” said Benoît Coeuré, a member of the ECB’s executive board. “The integration of the European retail payments market is a natural consequence of the monetary union. It facilitates everyday life for European citizens and also trade, financial integration and market competitiveness in the EU.”
Simon Newstead, head of market engagement at RBS Business Services said that the ERPB would be well placed to build on the initial discussions of the SEPA Council.
“The timing of this announcement is very appropriate. Once the initial migration to SCTs and SDDs has been completed, it will be important to have a senior multi-stakeholder governance body that can work together to bring about the highest levels of payments harmonisation that our clients are seeking within the SEPA area, as well as promoting the development of new innovative solutions built on the legacy of the core SEPA schemes.
“Key to success will be the degree to which the ERPB can rapidly establish itself as a truly representative forum bringing together the views of all types of payment service providers [PSPs], customer groupings and other key participants in the payments landscape.”
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