Instant payments are too expensive, says European Central Bank

For instant payments to become the new normal, they must be cheap and easy to use, the European Central Bank (ECB) has said.

Fabio Panetta, member of the executive board at the bank, warned that while the cost for service providers of using TIPS is 0.20 eurocent (€0.002) per instant payment transaction, instant payments are sometimes offered to consumers for €1 per transaction.

“This must change,” Panetta said at a forum in Helsinki on Wednesday. “We would also like to see providers make instant payments available on all commonly used electronic channels and offer much-desired functionalities such as Requestto-Pay.”

He also said that to increase choice, resilience and competitiveness, the European payments ecosystem must proactively stimulate competition, including by developing innovative, Europe-grown solutions and technologies.

Panetta said that while digitalisation is changing the way people pay, Europe is not optimally positioned because of a “wait-and-see” attitude. This, he claimed, has made the continent overly dependent on a few foreign providers for card and online payments.

“For this reason, a key priority of our retail payments strategy is the development of a European payment solution for the point of interaction,” the bank executive added. “The ECB welcomed the launch of the European Payments Initiative as its objectives meet our public interest criteria: pan-European reach and customer experience, convenience and cost efficiency, safety and efficiency, European brand and governance, and global acceptance as a longer-term goal.”

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