The Eurosystem supports clear and transparent governance structures on retail payments that involve all stakeholder groups: payment service providers, end users, and public authorities – and on some specific issues possible additional groups.

Why is the Eurosystem involved in retail payments?

One of the Eurosystem’s basic tasks is to promote the smooth operation of payment systems. The legal basis for the Eurosystem’s competence in the area of payment systems is contained in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. According to the Statute of the European System of Central Banks and of the European Central Bank, "the ECB and the national central banks may provide facilities, and the ECB may make regulations, to ensure efficient and sound clearing and payment systems within the Union and with other countries".

The Eurosystem uses its expertise as well as contacts with the private sector and other public authorities to improve overall market efficiency. The Eurosystem is keen to help the industry find safe and effective payment, clearing and settlement solutions for the euro area. An important example of the Eurosystem’s catalyst work is its contribution to the creation of the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA).

The Eurosystem supports the development of retail payments by:

  • providing guidance to market participants: through speeches and publications the Eurosystem provides a continuous assessment of the progress made and draws attention to the issues that need further work. In addition, the Eurosystem offers guidance to the market whenever it is needed by clarifying specific issues.
  • ensuring that SEPA is in the interest of all stakeholders: the Eurosystem organises and participates in stakeholder events and fora, external events and bilateral meetings to make sure that the needs of all stakeholder groups – consumers, retailers, companies, payment service and infrastructure providers, etc. – are taken into account. The ultimate aim has been to ensure that the retail payment market evolves in the best interests of the euro area and the European Union.
  • contributing to the coordination of communication: the Eurosystem considers it important to keep all stakeholders informed in a timely, transparent and consistent manner. In order to reduce the risk of misunderstandings, the Eurosystem helps to coordinate communication at European and at national level.
  • encouraging the use of SEPA payments: the faster the new instruments and services are adopted, the earlier the benefits of SEPA can be reaped. Therefore, the Eurosystem seeks to foster the use of the SEPA payment instruments by encouraging their adoption by big senders and receivers of payments, such as corporations or the public sector. In addition, it encourages the market to develop and offer value-added services to fully exploit the benefits of SEPA and, as a consequence, make it more attractive to the users of payment services.