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26 June 2020

ESBG: EU retail payments strategy: level playing field needed

​​ESBG response to EU Commission consultation: Promote financial stability, protect consumers, spur EU innovation

ESBG submitted on 26 June ESBG consultation response">a response​ to the European Commission consultation on a retail payments strategy for the European Union.​

ESBG wrote in the response that it supports the Commission’s initiative to launch a retail payments strategy for the EU and the respective public consultation. In anticipation it, ESBG joined together with the other members of the group European Credit Sector Associations (ECSAs), publishing on 1 April a paper Payments Policy for Europe: Direction for the five years. The association representing some 900 savings and retails banks in Europe sees the consultation as an chance to give feedback to the Commission as an added means to get its views across as input for the Commission’s retail payments strategy. ESBG and its member banks stand ready to further engage with the Commission on these strategic issues in the weeks and months to come.

Level playing field needed

In its response, ESBG calls on the European Commission to ensure a level playing field where players of all sizes have opportunities and incentives to invest and profit from the next breakthroughs. The ESBG sees this is crucial to ensure safe payments whilst promoting innovation, competition, and investments. At the same time, the Commission should promote an environment that provides financial stability and consumer protection to ensure that European players can compete in the global payments market on the same terms.

Industry already taking steps towards payments market "Europeanisation"

A challenge well known and backed by industry, achieving “Europeanisation” of payments market already moves forward with efforts by market participants. Their early-stage work can act as building blocks to address the European Union’s full independence on the payments front. For such initiatives to mature, however, ESBG recommends regulators to provide a mature and stable regulatory and supervisory environment both risk-based and activity-oriented, as well as fully harmonised. 

Support infrastructures that support payments in euros

Additionally, the ESBG argues that positioning the euro as a usable currency for non-euro users should be one of the EU authorities’ goals. To do so, the ESBG recommends the Commission support the infrastructures that support payments in euro and to give priority to the interoperability of the euro payment schemes and infrastructures with those of third countries. On this point, ESBG suggests that the retail payment strategy should support these aims in ways that strengthen Europe as a whole – for example, for both the Single Euro Payments Area and the non-euro areas – promote the euro as the common currency for all types of payments, and build up a competitive balance of domestic and European payment markets.

All market participants should benefit fromdevelopments​, build system on data innovation

ESBG also posits the need for all market participants, including consumers and banks, to be able to benefit from further developments. Unbalanced regulation that disproportionately burdens banks with respect to costs and benefits would bolster non-European players and thus ultimately weakens the euro at international level. The same rings is true for promoting open banking initiatives based on standard interfaces (APIs) that enable a level playing field across banks, “Big Tech” firms and large companies. It follows that an effective, euro-based payment ecosystem cannot be built without the innovative use of data and value-added services. 

ESBG consultation response to EU retail payments strategy consultation">>> See ESBG consultation response​ 



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