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Cloudsurfing and payments

Many in our industry are watching in fascination as the United States inches towards a real-time payments solution. There are three recent developments: the Fed’s Faster payments task force has defined effectiveness criteria for a new payments system, NACHA has received the Fed’s approval for its same day ACH rule, and most interestingly, The Clearing House – the high value clearing network for the larger banks – has announced a letter of intent with Vocalink to develop a new real-time system. Judging by the Chicago Payments Symposium hosted by the Chicago Fed last month, there is still nothing like consensus on the “right” outcome, and the US is still some years from new mainstream payments services that are “cloud ready”.
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Banked World

New research highlights an increasingly “banked” world

Billions of people, primarily in developing countries, have historically had neither bank accounts nor access to electronic payments. When saving and making payments, they have had to rely on cash. This is rapidly changing. According to the recently-released World Bank Global Findex, in 2014, 62 per cent of the adults worldwide had a formal account with a financial institution or mobile money service – a dramatic increase from 51 per cent in 2011. This upswing in financial inclusion has been facilitated by a growing middle class in many developing countries and easily available technology, in particular the mobile phone. However this growth has taken a different path in different regions.
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Uk Payments Reform

A strange brew – regulator releases its final policy statement on UK Payments

The new UK Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) became operational on 1 April 2015 and as reported in the most recent edition of Payments Monitor (APCA's quarterly newsletter), released its first major policy statement, entitled “A new regulatory framework for the payment systems in the UK”. The PSR has laid down a significant agenda. This includes the establishment of the “Payments Strategy Forum” to develop a collaborative industry strategy and effectively replace the UK Payments Council. The payment system is a network and a strong shared vision and collaborative strategy is critical for success. Collaborative bodies, such as Australia's own Australian Payments Council, recognise the need to have forums that bring industry together. However to be successful, the new Strategy Forum will need active industry participation. If industry is only there to assist in the implementation of public policy, then the new Forum will fall short of expectations.
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Tough medicine for the UK payments system – but how sick is the patient?

On 13 November 2014, the UK Payments System Regulator (PSR) released “A new regulatory framework for payment systems in the UK”. This document outlines, and seeks feedback on, the PSR’s thinking on its regulatory approach in the lead-up to becoming operational in April 2015. The PSR is a new economic regulator that sits within the Financial Conduct Authority and has broad powers to designate payment systems and impose standards. While on paper, the PSR’s powers are not too dissimilar to those of Australia’s own Payments System Board, at first glance, the 13 November consultation paper suggests a much more invasive, and it could be argued ill-conceived, regulatory stance.
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Of payment regulators and payments councils

Try Googling "Payments Council", at least from Australia, and the first entry you get is the UK Payments Council home page, trumpeting its Faster Payments service, its mobile to mobile payments facility "Paym" and its automated account switching service. The next four entries relate to the joint RBA/APCA consultation on, and establishment of, an Australian Payments Council, which is approaching completion with an inaugural meeting later this year. One might be forgiven for assuming that Australia is in the process of establishing the same kind of body that already exists, and appears to be doing quite a good job, in the UK. Now try Googling "Payment Systems Regulator". The first four entries relate to the UK development of a new regulator with extensive powers over retail payment systems. The fifth entry is the home page of RBA's Payments System Board, established more than 15 years ago with (rather less extensive) powers to regulate Australian payment systems. Again, one might be forgiven for assuming that the UK was in the process of establishing a regulatory framework on the long-standing and, according to the Financial System Inquiry (FSI), successful Australian model. Both these assumptions would be wrong. Beware the besetting sin of an information-rich age: analysis by search engine.
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