To make a success, the public sector must engage
The public sector is a prime economic actor and is responsible for as much as 50 per cent of the GDP in the euro area and accounts for up to 20 per cent or more of electronic payments made in society. Moving this volume of payments made by public administrations to not only significantly contributes to creating critical mass, but will in addition trigger the adoption of instruments by others, such as corporates and consumers. Given the wider benefits for society, public administrations could and should therefore play a major role in kick-starting migration by setting an example for all payment service users.
The Second Annual Progress Report on the state of migration in 2009 (November 2009) prepared by the Commission Services finds that high-volume payment users such as public administrations - even if strongly committed to - are slow in migrating to ; e.g. in September 2009 the Credit Transfer ( ) migration rate in the public sector was significantly below the overall migration rate in the euro area. There are, however, three Member States which beat the general average migration trend by a large margin, namely Luxembourg, Slovenia and Belgium, with rates of 100 per cent, 60 per cent and 18 per cent, respectively. For public administrations in the remaining Member States, the migration rate is either below the average national rate or even zero.
No more excuses
In December 2009, the ECOFIN (Economic and Financial Affairs Council - comprising the Economics and Finance Ministers of the Member States) emphasised that "the full benefits of can only be obtained through the full migration of existing national euro payments transactions"; stressed "the important role that should be played by users with high payment volumes such as significant public authorities, corporates and other large entities in such migration" and called on " public authorities in all Member States to significantly step up, unless already done, their migration efforts and lead migration by example". In addition, the ECOFIN invited "public authorities to demonstrate, unless already done, their willingness to drive forward the migration process by drawing up integrated and synchronised national migration plans for all public authorities, in order to achieve full migration of national public administrations to standards, products and services".
The invites public administrations across the 32 countries to refer to the publication " for the Public Sector" which contains valuable information designed to assist in the set up of implementation projects. Thanks to the translations of this publication in all languages provided by the ECB in cooperation with national central banks, moving forward the language barrier should not pose an obstacle to speedy migration by public entities any longer.
Herman Segers is the Secretary General of the European Payments Council.
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