Fabian Demicoli

Basic electronic payments for all EU citizens


The commerce
sector is greatly encouraged by the proposal for a directive on citizens'
payment accounts which was published by the Commission. "We see this as the
first step towards the universal provision of a low-cost electronic payment
system available to all EU citizens," said EuroCommerce Director-General,
Christian Verschueren.

"Expensive credit card payment methods still dominate in
the online payments sector. We need to open up the payments market to provide
all payment users with choice and transparent fee models in their payment
services."

Commerce
urges the Commission to take the same political line in its upcoming proposals
on the revision of the Payment Services Directive (PSD) and on a regulation on
interchange fees. Strong legislative measures are needed to allow market
participants to create competitive and innovative payment models.

Europe
needs to establish a strong e-commerce and e-payments market, both domestic and
cross-border, which is easily accessible by Europe's consumers and businesses,
especially SMEs. One of the pre-requisites for this is the availability of
secure, simple and low-cost electronic payment methods, using harmonised
standards under the framework of SEPA. To achieve this, the forthcoming
legislation must tackle two issues:

The PSD must be revised to allow new providers to enter the
market and offer payment services. The competition thus created would open up
the market to innovative payment models and result in price reductions. The
retail sector also believes that a switch from card-based electronic payments
to those which use simple credit transfer models would be more secure and
would, therefore, go a long way to tackling the problems of fraud associated
with card payments over the internet.

The interchange fee: the single greatest barrier to new payment
models and to the growth of retail and e-commerce is the current interchange
fee system. We call on the Commission to issue a strong regulation to remedy
this problem. Removing the interchange barrier is a fundamental step towards
establishing a modern Europe-wide electronic payments market, which provides
real financial inclusion and makes full use of the new technologies and payment
options.

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