Corporates pile the pressure on banks for open payments market

Corporates pile the pressure on banks for open payments market

Corporate treasurers are joining with the European Commission and calling for more urgency from banks in the creation of an open payments market across Europe.

At a conference in Brussels today organised by treasury standards body Twist, the corporate community sought to raise the pressure on banks by presenting the user perspective on obstacles to cross-border payments processing in Europe.

Jan Molema, manager for EU affairs at Swedish furniture retailer Ikea was most vocal in condemning bank practices. "For a company like Ikea, present in 18 EU member states, it is incomprehensible to see that we still have different systems in every member state for accepting for instance payment cards. Moreover these payment systems are often driven by local monopolies of banks leading to excessively high cost."

Molema urged the European Commission to take action against laggards and speed up the drive to a Single Euro Payments Area (Sepa). "Few of the much-quoted barriers to the implementation of Sepa stand up to much scrutiny," he added. "With the support of the European Commission, the European Central Bank and many large corporates, the momentum behind a user-driven design for Sepa is growing fast."

For corporations to easily switch to the best choice service provider, they need standardised electronic access to any provider and the ability to make bank accounts portable within the European market, argues Twist, in a white paper delivered to European lawmakers at the event.

"With many of the legal issues near to resolution, the focus of Sepa is now turning to some of the implementation issues and the practical fulfilment of corporate requirements," comments Tom Buschman, chairman of Twist "Corporations will invest in new payment solutions if it enhances efficiencies and improves their controls. There are services available in different parts of Europe that can provide the right solution if offered in an open market. So the solution for Sepa implementation is to provide customers with free and easy access to the payment services of their choice."

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