SME Chamber

Commission:Breaking down barriers to secure and innovative card, mobile payments

Brussels, 11 January 2012 – Carrying a virtual train ticket or repaying a friend with your mobile phone, buying your groceries online, paying with your debit card abroad – the way European citizens shop and pay is radically changing. A secure and transparent integrated payments environment throughout the EU could create more efficient, modern and safer means of payments – for the benefits of consumers, merchants and payment providers. Based on the Green Paper consultation adopted today, the Commission seeks the views of stakeholders as to which obstacles hinder further market integration and how these could be resolved. The deadline for submitting contributions to the consultation is 11 April 2012.


Electronic payments are essential for every consumer, either when buying something at the points-of-sale or while shopping on the internet. Throughout the EU, more than 700 million payment cards are in use, e-commerce is offering tremendous opportunities and the number of smart phones is increasing at a dramatic rate. The Green Paper analyses the obstacles which hinder European market integration in these promising payment technologies.

Internal Market and Services Commissioner Michel Barnier said: "Europe has an opportunity to be at the cutting edge of what ‘making a payment' could mean in the future. However, we will not be able to reach this goal with the current level of market fragmentation. Secure, efficient, competitive and innovative electronic payments are crucial for consumers, retailers and companies to fully enjoy the benefits of the Single Market as well as to drive the growth of e-commerce. The consultation we are launching today is fully in line with the Commission's mandate focusing on growth and job creation and building on the achievements already made in the field of retail payments".

Vice President Joaquín Almunia added: "Inefficient payments systems within the European Union unduly raise transaction costs; undermine the global competitiveness of the European economy and limit its potential for growth. Europe's consumers, merchants and companies deserve payment services in tune with the 21st century: transparent, with genuine value-added and making the best use of our technologies."

Background information

This Green Paper assesses the current landscape of card, internet and mobile payments in Europe, identifies the gaps between the current situation and the vision of a fully integrated payments market and the barriers which have created these gaps. The objective of the Green Paper is to launch a broad consultation process with stakeholders to validate or contribute to the Commission's analysis and to help identify the right way to improve market integration.

The main issues identified in the paper concern:

  • Market access and entry for existing and new service providers
  • Payment security and data protection
  • Transparent and efficient pricing of payment services
  • Technical standardisation
  • Inter-operability between service providers.




An additional crucial issue, overarching all the aspects above, is the one of proper governance. In other words, how can the remedies for the obstacles identified be best put in place so as to ensure that the benefits materialise in a reasonable time frame.

While the Commission has been active on card payments previously, mostly in the framework of the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) and by applying competition law (see the Commission's Decisions addressed to MasterCard and Visa), internet and mobile payments are relatively new policy fields at European level. When preparing the Green Paper, the Commission has therefore looked at a very broad range of policy areas that are potentially relevant to these fields.

Responses to the Green Paper are welcome until 11 April 2012. On the basis of a thorough analysis of the consultation feedback, the Commission will announce the next steps to be taken before the summer of 2012.

More information 

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