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eSEPA: Online merchants speak up

ECB is putting up more pressure on the banking sector regarding online and mobile payments in their recently published 7th progress report: online payments have to be solved for Europe.

In every debate on this topic I dearly miss the customer voice! In payments there are always two customers (buyers and sellers) but in the case of online payments I miss the voice of the online merchants. Where are the big airlines, ticket sellers and retailers? What do they have to say in this public debate? They are having the fraud and usability problems and should be willing to pay for the solutions the ECB and EC are pushing for.  When it comes to ‘brick and mortar’ payment discussions, merchants are a lot more vocal. Merchants are the decisive voice in this debate and should be able to persuade banks who still hesitate in going this direction.

It is amazing that such obvious e-payments developments aren’t taking place after so many years of internet, mobile and e-commerce development. Payments on the Internet and mobile phones can be made virtually fraudless, but as an industry we ‘accept’ that there are payment services in the market for which you need a separate fraud department, fraud trainings and of course fraud IT hardware and software. An industry of its own! The online fraud situation has improved in the past years with the introduction of 3DSecure, but the consumer experience hasn’t improved.

Banks still have the opportunity to surprise the world with superior online payment and beyond services (e-mandates, e-invoicing, e-identity, mobile etc), although one day the window will be closed and other players will have captured the market on the basis of the heavily regulated banking infrastructure.

When I talk to individual banking managers, everyone agrees something has to happen and that the opportunity is there. But collectively no significant progress is made. While everybody in this industry knows that you can’t revolutionize payments ‘on your own’. Institutions have to cooperate in the ‘cooperative domain’, laying a proper foundation for these new ‘e-services’. Once this basis is there, competing propositions can bring back market dynamics. What does it take to get this collective moving? A grand energizing vision? A next enemy? Customers? Business case? Crisis? Help! where is the ‘silver bullet’?

More on this burning issue of banking innovation:


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Douwe Lycklama

Douwe Lycklama

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30 Nov 2005



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EBAday is the annual event for European payments professionals organised by Finextra and the Euro Banking Association. This community has been created to deliver a forum for EBA delegates to exchange views on instant payments, open banking and new developments in payments processing and technology.

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