A new governance model to further enhance stakeholders’ involvement
Let us briefly go back to October 2014, when the European Payments Council () resolved to adapt its structure to further enhance governance and stakeholders’ involvement. With the main phase of the migration to harmonised Single Euro Payments Area () payment schemes (the schemes) in the euro area complete, the objective of this evolution was to ensure that the continues to be best equipped to perform its main task. In order to manage the Credit Transfer () and Direct Debit () schemes in an efficient and transparent manner, part of the evolution of the governance was to strengthen the dialogue with the demand side of the payments market, as well as with providers developing technical solutions which help the market to fully reap the benefits. The evolution of the schemes indeed relies on close consultation between the and these stakeholders. The , therefore, created two new bodies: the Scheme End-User Forum (SEUF) and the Scheme Technical Forum (ESTF), which met for the first time in September 2015.
Updates on the first meetings of the SEUF and ESTF where open seats are still available
While the SEUF gathers representatives of European associations of payment scheme users (for instance, merchants and corporate treasurers), and the ESTF, representatives from technical players, the aim of these two bodies is the same: to inform stakeholders about the maintenance and the further evolution of the existing scheme rulebooks (the rules governing the schemes – more information on these later in this article). These groups also act as a formal feedback channel via which the end-user representatives and technical players are able to raise or address issues and make recommendations to the concerning the scheme rulebooks.
Participation in the SEUF and ESTF is, therefore, an outstanding opportunity for stakeholders to have their say in the evolution of the schemes. There are still open seats available for certain categories of technical players wishing to join the ESTF, and for representatives of European end-user associations interested in the SEUF. The invites all interested parties to submit an application. In particular, in the SEUF, the would gladly welcome representatives of consumers and small and medium-sized enterprises. More information on the membership profile, the current composition of these bodies, as well as the instructions on how to send an application can be found on the EPC website.
At their first meetings in September, the SEUF and ESTF members were invited to share their views on important issues that may impact the scheme rulebooks, such as the possibility to make the customer-to-bank and bank-to-customer implementation guidelines mandatory or to provide access to additional remittance information. In their respective meetings, the SEUF and ESTF members shared their thoughts on these topics. Some of their inputs will be included as change requests in the 2016 public consultation on the rulebooks.
Readers interested in going into more depth on the topics that were discussed during the SEUF and ESTF meetings are invited to visit the EPC website, where in line with its commitment to transparency, the has made the agenda and approved minutes available.
The SEUF and ESTF participants were also updated on the work on instant payments. Members were informed about how the plans to organise the development of a potential instant payment scheme rulebook, if the Euro Retail Payments Board () were to approve its creation in its November meeting. More information on the ’s work on instant payments can be found in the Chair’s article in this newsletter.
The consultation on the Scheme Management Internal Rules runs until 31 December 2015
All payment stakeholders are invited to submit suggestions on the revised version of the Scheme Management Internal Rules (SMIRs), which are subject to a three-month public consultation until 31 December 2015.
The SMIRs set out the principles governing the administration and evolution of the schemes. Pursuant to the spirit of the new governance model, the amendments proposed in these revised SMIRs will further increase the transparency of the evolution of the scheme rulebooks. They will also enhance the involvement of end-users and technical players in the change management process of the scheme rulebooks.
For instance, an individual or organisation that has submitted a change request will have the chance to ask the to present its change request in further detail to the body in charge of the change management process for the schemes.
The revised SMIRs also include a proposal to organise the change management process at least every two years (instead of once a year). This will ensure greater scheme stability for the scheme participants and stakeholders.
Stakeholders interested in detailed information on the public consultation and the procedure to submit suggestions on the SMIRs are invited to visit the EPC website.
The will review all comments received, conclude on a final text of the revised SMIRs and make the final SMIRs publicly available on the website in the course of the first quarter of 2016. They will become effective 30 calendar days after their approval.
This new version of the SMIRs will be applicable for the 90-day public consultation of the / rulebook release management cycle to be conducted in 2016, which is another opportunity for all stakeholders to participate in the evolution of the schemes.
The scheme rulebooks are open to suggestions for changes until 31 December 2015
Lastly, the stakeholders’ involvement at work and the ’s objective of providing payment schemes consistent with market needs and updated technical standards are also illustrated by the current call for suggestions for and scheme rulebooks. The rulebooks are sets of rules and technical standards for the execution of payment transactions that have to be followed by adhering payment service providers. They can be regarded as instruction manuals which provide a common understanding on how to move funds from account A to account B within . They are, therefore, at the core of payments.
In the middle of 2015, the launched a call for suggestions for changes to the rulebooks. All payment stakeholders are welcome to send their suggestions by 31 December 2015. More information on the procedure to submit comments can be found on the EPC website.
All suggestions will be evaluated by the and then subject to a three-month public consultation in 2016. Suggestions finding broad acceptance will be taken forward, as long as they are technically and legally feasible. They will afterwards be implemented in the rulebook versions to be published in November 2016 for implementation in November 2017.
With the work of the SEUF and ESTF now in motion, the new governance is fully operational. The hopes end-user representatives and technical players will be eager, as well as other payment stakeholders, to engage in the schemes evolution. The is looking forward to new ideas from stakeholders, in order to achieve the next steps in the process.
Jean-Yves Jacquelin is the Chair of the Scheme Evolution and Maintenance Working Group.
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