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NextGen Nordics 2024: NPC’s Camilla Åkerman on navigating payment complexities

NextGen Nordics 2024: NPC’s Camilla Åkerman on navigating payment complexities

NextGen Nordics is returning to Stockholm on the 23rd of April and we are pleased to announce Camilla Åkerman, secretary general of the Nordic Payments Council (NPC), will be joining us as our keynote speaker.

Åkerman will be speaking on the topic ‘Nordic payment infrastructure - is it time for a domestic focus?’. Åkerman has over 30 years of experience in the banking industry, specialising in payments and settlement. In the past eight years, she has worked on shaping the future ISO 20022-based Nordic payment infrastructure.

Finextra spoke to Åkerman about some of the lessons learned in the Nordics over the last few years, and what we might hope to move onto next.

When asked about what we have learned from the fall of P27, Åkerman said: “The decommissioning of P27 serves as a crucial reminder of the importance of a predetermined project scope and close management and maintaining realistic expectations and market focus.”

She adds: “However, the case of P27 teaches us that navigating the complexities of multiple jurisdictions, managing the project's size, and adhering to tight delivery schedules can present significant challenges and hinder success.”

Åkerman highlights that P27 started with a specific goal of replacing outdated payment infrastructures. However, as time continued the scope of the project widened to include more system upgrades and new products and services. She says: “This expansion posed significant challenges in terms of prioritisation, as it became increasingly difficult to determine the order of importance for various project components. Consequently, the project's complexity grew, and the team faced additional hurdles along the way.”

She also pointed to the numerous regulatory challenges faced by P27. She comments: “The absence of clear regulatory guidance resulted in additional time spent on proving compliance and added risks to the design of the new infrastructure.”
Adding to these pressures, there was the introduction of “other market-driven initiatives, such as the involvement of central banks in the Swift transformation from MT to XML standards, and the need to modernise real-time gross settlement payment platforms, introduced dependencies and risks. These dependencies sometimes required re-prioritisation of tasks, which further complicated the project.”

This ultimately led to more tasking being added to P27’s delivery timeline. Åkerman comments: “The lessons learned from this experience underline the importance of keeping focus on targeted standardisation requirements and having a clear prioritisation strategy.”

However, it is important to note that despite the challenges faced, Åkerman acknowledges that the goal of creating a harmonised and standardised payment infrastructure across the region has not disappeared. She highlights that this goal is still very much alive within the NPC. The NPC is providing Nordic payment- and payment related rulebooks and implementation guidelines which will be used by payment service providers in the Nordics, and to which Nordic Clearing and Settlement Mechanisms and Account and Clearing Houses will base their modernised clearing and settlement platforms.

On the question if there is a hope for a harmonised cross-border payment infrastructure she says: “Significant progress has already been made in achieving harmonisation for ordinary credit transfers, in terms of using SWIFT-standards, however, challenges arise when attempting to facilitate instant cross-border payments that normally follow local formats. Nonetheless, various initiatives are underway to implement instant payment systems that can enable seamless cross-border transactions.”

Åkerman gives the examples here of the European Payments Council (EPC) publishing a rulebook for processing One-Leg-Out credit transfers, organisations like TCH and EBA working together through the IXB initiative to enable instant cross-border payments, and commitments made by ASEAN 5 to implement a multilateral cross-border scheme based on the BIS Project Nexus, and bilateral links have been established between countries such as India and Singapore.

She comments: “These initiatives demonstrate the growing recognition of the need for instant and seamless cross-border payments.”

Looking towards the NextGen Nordics event Åkerman states: “I hope for participants to develop a clearer understanding of the direction we are heading in the payments landscape, enabling them to make informed preparations for upcoming opportunities and improvements for payment users in the Nordics.”

Register here for NextGen Nordics 2024. See the full agenda here. If you would like to find out more about sponsoring the event, please email events@finextra.com.

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