EPA releases COVID-19 impact consultation

The Emerging Payments Association (EPA) has announced the outcomes of its first COVID-19 consultation.

The paper emphasises the seismic change that COVID-19 will have on how we use payments to live, work and shop – and the effect this will have on the shape and size of the payments industry.

The EPA, which represents 130 member companies that are responsible for transacting more than £6 trillion annually across the payments value chain, completed the report along with some of the most prominent leaders in the sector.

Developed in consultation with the EPA’s advisory and ambassador boards, it lays out a five-point plan designed to aid recovery, foster resilience and promote leadership during these challenging times.

The report suggested that regulators could adopt a “loose-tight strategy” by showing flexibility in some areas and increased vigilance in others. “For example, industry consultations should be postponed, but conforming to capital adequacy ratios or deadlines for Strong Customer Authentication compliance should be adhered to vigilantly.

The stability of the payments industry is not challenged but growth and profitability will be, especially over the next two years, stated the EPA.

The report noted that analysts are forecasting activity could drop by as much as eight to 10 per cent of total revenues. “This means the industry needs to plan to keep thriving and to not pull up the drawbridge to investment, visibility and innovation initiatives to mitigate a slower recovery after the pandemic.”

The document stated that there are 13 million people in the UK who are financially excluded and in vulnerable groups, especially the elderly who are further impacted by the pandemic. “Those people who are self-isolating and relying on others to shop or the millions of who are digitally excluded must be catered for in new and creative ways and payments companies must adapt their policies and services to mitigate this.”

Tony Craddock, director general of the EPA, added: “It’s not going to be plain sailing, we have to weather this storm as an industry.

“This paper identifies how we can do so, and then what needs to happen to ensure people can continue to pay and get paid, as we move into the recovery phase.”

Andrea Dunlop, chair of the EPA Advisory Board, added: “It's important during this time that we embrace community and do our very best to help the most vulnerable in our society – good leadership and social responsibility will go a long way with employees and customers.”

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