PRESS RELEASE

Oversight standards for euro retail payment systems

26 June 2003

In carrying out its statutory task of promoting the smooth operation of payment systems, the Eurosystem has been refining its policy stance on retail payment systems. The "Oversight standards for euro retail payment systems" ("Retail Standards") adopted today by the Governing Council of the European Central Bank will ensure a harmonised and systematic oversight of retail payment systems in the euro area. These standards draw on the Core Principles for Systemically Important Payment Systems [Bank for International Settlements, January 2001] ("Core Principles") which apply to large-value payment systems. The standards adopted today contain indicators for categorising retail payment systems into systemically important retail payment systems, retail systems of prominent importance and other retail payment systems. All Core Principles will be applied to systemically important retail payment systems, whereas only a selection of six Core Principles will be applied to systems of prominent importance. Other retail payment systems will have to comply with any other applicable standards (e.g. Eurosystem standards for e-money schemes or nationally adopted standards). The Eurosystem will now categorise retail payment systems in the euro area and assess all systems against the relevant standards. This categorisation and assessment will enhance the stability and soundness of retail payment systems. The standards address legal safety, financial risk management, security and operational reliability, efficiency, access criteria and system governance.

The adoption of the Retail Standards follows a process of public consultation which was launched on 8 July 2002 with the publication of the draft "Oversight standards for euro retail payment systems".

Comments were supportive and welcomed the transparency shown by the Eurosystem in further developing its retail payment systems policy. Above all, commentators sought a level playing-field. Market participants requested publication of a transparent methodology which would allow a transparent categorisation of retail payment systems in the euro area. They requested that the Eurosystem provide clarification with regard to the classification of euro retail payment systems and the oversight standards that will apply to them. Furthermore, comments were received on the scope of the Retail Standards and the time-frame for their implementation.

The Eurosystem appreciates the comments received. They will all be made available in English on the ECB’s website. The Eurosystem has taken account of these comments. The comments did not lead to a change in the substance of the standards but to a more detailed explanation of the Eurosystem’s policy stance and an explanation of the methodology used to identify retail payment systems that are of systemic importance and retail systems that are of prominent importance.

The final English version of the Eurosystem’s "Oversight standards for euro retail payment systems" is published together with this press release. (Hard copies can be obtained by writing to the ECB’s Press and Information Division at the address given below.) It is also made available, together with the English version of the Eurosystem’s response to the main comments received ("Oversight standards for euro retail payment systems – response to the comments received by public consultation"), in the "Public consultations" section of the ECB’s website. Both documents will be available in all official Community languages in due course.

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