The European Central Bank's Gertrude Tumpel-Gugerell has set out a list of New Year Resolutions for the EU payments industry, including the imposition of a Sepa migration end-date and the creation of a third card payment scheme to compete with Visa and MasterCard.
Speaking at the Next Generation Cards & Payments Conference, held in Brussels late last week, Tumpel-Gugerell listed five "demanding" New Year resolutions considered "essential" to the future success of the European Commission's push for a Single Euro Payments Area (Sepa).
Top of the list was a call for en EU regulation for a Sepa migration end-date. The European Commission organised a public hearing on the issue, which took place last Wednesday and Tumpel-Gugerell re-iterated the central bank's preferred timelines for a forced migration to Sepa-compliant credit transfers at the end of 2012, followed by direct debits the following year.
Resolution number two was to extend the Sepa project to the creation of a competitive cards market using an interoperable framework based on the ISO 20022 message standard. Work on cards standardisation is lagging, said Tumpel-Gugerell, as she emphasised the "strategic importance" of adopting a more coordinated approach to global standard-setting bodies, such as the ISO and EMVCo.
This led into the third resolution for a break-up of the Visa/MasterCard duopoly in the European cards market and the creation of a third, preferably bank-led, scheme.
"We are closely monitoring the work of the three initiatives that have been launched," she noted. "However, the market asks for more certainty (on multilateral interchange) and it may be that this must ultimately be provided in the form of a regulation."
Tumpel-Gugerell's fourth and fifth resolutions centred on the need for more innovation in online payment markets and a greater focus on security.
"The ECB strongly supports the emergence of Sepa-wide online e-payment solutions, such as those that already exist at the national level, for example in Germany, Austria and the Netherlands," she said. "In my view, European wide implementation of such innovative ideas is very much needed."
On security, she said that the ECB has recently launched the idea to set up a "Forum for Security Issues".
"Such a forum would monitor market developments. In addition it could enable the relevant authorities, including banking supervisors and central banks, to align their expectations on security. The Eurosystem is currently investigating what could be the precise mandate and composition of such a forum."