Interoperability most important for cross-border payments: Visa Europe CEO

It will take more than new technical standards to enable truly efficient, frictionless cross-border payments, Visa Europe CEO Charlotte Hogg has told delegates at Sibos 2021.

Speaking during a panel discussion, Hogg acknowledged progress made in the market during recent years, which she suggested has been driven in part by changing customer expectations of digital services and in part by the changes in online behaviour caused by the pandemic lockdowns.

But while she welcomed the ISO 20022 global payments standard, Hogg also stressed the need to increase interoperability between cross-border and national payment systems and standards, citing the dozens of card networks, services, ACH processes, payment gateways and local messaging standards Visa has to work with in Europe alone.

She emphasised the importance of regulators working together and with the industry to help improve speed and efficiency and to reduce the costs of cross-border payments.

“Let’s think about all aspects of interoperability, particularly on the regulatory side,” Hogg said. “Technical solutions can solve a whole lot of things, but let’s not think that we’ve solved a problem, when we probably haven’t.”

Her fellow panellist, Standard Chartered group CIO for technology and innovation, Michael Gorriz, highlighted the advantages that the new ISO standard will bring to the market, particularly the richer data it will move through the system. “It’s not a silver bullet, but it gets us further down the road,” he said.

Hogg also said that further improvements to the system must not be at the expense of competition. She pointed to the work of new entrants who have brought innovative technologies and business models into the market, helping to improve the speed and efficiency of cross-border payments around the world.

She said policymakers and industry participants needed to consider how to create effective structures in the market that enable new providers to continue to make an impact, asking: “How do we increase the openness to competition, in order for businesses and consumers to feel safe and feel like they have a real choice?”

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