The European quest to create a true single payments area will not be achieved unless the banking industry looks beyond short-term compliance requirements and takes a strategic perspective that incorporates the views of all stakeholders, including corporates, delegates attending the EBAday payments conference in Rome have been told.
The call to widen the debate about the future direction of payments services provision across Europe was led by Mark Garvin, chief administrative officer of JPMorgan Chase in a set piece speech to EBAday delegates. He pointed to the birth of the UK’s payments council as a possible model for future best practice, in which the voices of business representatives, consumers and regulators are heard alongside those of banks.
Urging the top tier European banks to take the lead and show the way, he noted that the European Payments Council, the banking community’s decision-making and co-ordination body for Sepa, is already working to include a place at the top table for corporate treasury input and suggested that the Euro Banking Association should do likewise.
“Without effective governance, Sepa may reach the markets but no-one will realise the full benefits,” he warned.
Garvin's words will have played well with Gianfranco Tabasso, chairman of the European Association of Corporate Treasurers. Invited to the conference to give the corporate perspective at a session the previous day, he had complained that the banking industry was failing to commmunicate effectively with clients about the transposition of the Sepa rulebook at national level. Member states seemed ready to adopt their own distinct take on the implementation of the Sepa scheme, he opined, effectively creating a multitude of new interface requirements for corporates transacting across Europe.
His concerns were touched on by Werner Steinmuller, head of global transaction banking at Deutsche Bank, who opened Tuesday morning's conference by urging banks to take a long-term strategic perspective in their Sepa implementation programmes. He called on delegates to go beyond tick-box compliance and to look on the creation of Sepa as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Europe to lead the industry forward and protect the payments’ franchise from emerging competition.
To achieve this, Europe’s banks need to work together and adopt a joined-up approach. “To make Sepa a European tool...we have to avoid single country solutions," he stated.