The UK Payments Council is to develop a Payments Roadmap, setting out key strategic short-term and long-term goals for restructuring the nation's payments infrastructure over the next three, five and ten years.
Billing the Roadmap as a 'ground-breaking document', the Council's initial report sets out six possible options for long-term reform, weighing the benefits of creating multiple, separate, collaborative payment 'schemes', compared to having a single, integrated shared payments platform.
The Roadmap will also include a three year plan to address more pressing interim needs, including: the adoption of the international ISO 20022 format as a common standard across the entire payments landscape; providing the capability to include additional reference information when a payment is made which might benefit businesses, charities or government; and a cost benefit analysis of account number portability.
The Council says it will consult with all key stakeholders over the coming months with a view to publishing the first full version of the Roadmap by Q1 next year.
The UK Government is currently consulting on a more strenuous set of reforms to the payments system, including the abolition of the Payments Council and establishment of an entirely new independent regulatory body.
In an open letter to the Government, Craig Donaldson, chief executive of new high street bank Metro Bank, has today called for the creation of an independently run, licensed 'plug and play' payments platform that banks can use and fund according to volume.
"The current system of 'agency banking' means that not only are existing banks able to charge discretionary fees to new banks to process their transactions, but that new banks are dependent on the service levels and IT systems of existing banks for their transactions," he says. "Transactional services should be made independent, and run by an independent payments regulator."
Payment Council chief Adrian Kamellard acknowledges the pressure for regulatory reform, but maintains that work on the Roadmap will provide a lasting legacy.
"Although we do not currently know what new regulation will emerge as a result of the Government's consultation...we are developing the Roadmap to ensure that any new regulator will find it to be an invaluable resource," he says. "The Roadmap will clearly set out how the collaborative space of the UK's payments environment can be made even more competitive, innovative, and cost-effective, whilst always maintaining the highest levels of resilience and security."
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