The Nordic Payments Council: harmonising payments in the Nordics

The Nordic Payments Council: harmonising payments in the Nordics

26 October 22

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The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and should not be attributed to the European Payments Council.

The Nordic Payments Council (NPC) plays a critical role in the management of Nordic payment schemes. Newly appointed Secretary General Camilla Åkerman offers us her vision and views on ongoing projects and further goals of the organisation. 

First, as the newly appointed Secretary General of the NPC could you share your vision for the NPC as well as the main opportunities and challenges that it faces?

My vision for the NPC is that it should be recognised and well-known for its important role as a professional, independent, and non-profit organisation that coordinates and develops relevant and required Nordic payment and payment-related schemes and thereby develops common standards across the Nordics.

Through its work, NPC will contribute to creating value for Nordic residents and enterprises through more efficient financial services and smooth and fast transfers of payments within the Nordics.

The main advantage of the NPC is that the organisation brings together the Nordic countries' payment experts, enabling knowledge sharing and increasing understanding, thus creating the best conditions for payment by implementing improvements in a common standard. When we are united as a region, I also believe that we improve our chances of being listened to and influencing and sharing our insights in turn with the payments community outside the Nordics.

However, I can see a challenge because none of the NPC schemes are currently in use, and we are still in a state of preparation. The NPC is highly dependent on its members and must adapt the resources at the NPC secretariat to the current situation while waiting for new infrastructures to get into place. Another challenge is attracting new members at this early stage. However, I can see advantages for potential members who join the NPC early because all members are involved in the creation of new rulebooks and any changes in the current rulebooks. Early-bird members can also participate in the implementation of new guidelines, which then allows for a smoother implementation into the member’s own IT organisation.

Q. What are the major projects on which the NPC is currently working or is considering starting work in the near future, and what are the potential interactions with the European Payment Council’s (EPC) own activities in this context?

We are currently finalising the Confirmation of Payee (CoP) scheme, which we plan to publish by the end of November 2022. The CoP will be the first rulebook developed by the NPC without any reference to any of the EPC rulebooks. We have high hopes that the CoP scheme will be of interest not only in the Nordic region but also in the eurozone, perhaps setting a common standard for verifying account holders in Europe.

As the NPC’s payment schemes essentially follow the EPC’s payment schemes, the NPC will coordinate the work in connection with the EPC’s open consultation for the 2025 version of the SCT and SCT Instant schemes next year. It is about analysing the proposed changes as well as anchoring and passing on the NPC's working-group views and comments to the EPC.

Q. Could you tell us more about the NPC’s Confirmation of Payee scheme?

The CoP scheme is a set of payment service provider rules that enables a payer to verify the correctness of a payee's account number before the transfer of a payment. CoP includes two possibilities for the confirmation of a payee: one enables the payer to verify the account number in combination with the name of the beneficiary, and the other enables them to verify the account number in combination with an identification. Fraud prevention is an obvious benefit but the CoP also contributes to reduced write-offs and efficiency gains because less time is allocated to investigating and claiming refunds for misdirected payments.

Q. How do you see the NPC evolving in the future?

I can see that the NPC will be able to grow as an organisation and thus contribute both to the innovation that arises from new technology and to ideas from banks and other stakeholders that will require rulebooks and common standards.

The collaboration within the Nordic banking community has been very productive to date, and I hope that this cooperation will be even more integrated in the future. We will also work closely with the EPC and others to enable secure and harmonised cross-border payments that link together efficiently. The NPC will support the development of instant cross-border payments that are available 24/7 for consumers to use within and beyond the Nordic region.

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