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ECB updates rules on retail payment systems

The European Central Bank (ECB) has published a new way of monitoring retail payment systems in the eurozone, to recognise changes in the marketplace and updates to financial market legislation. 23 Feb 2016

Until now, monitoring of retail payment systems was based on standards put in place in 2003, the ECB said. The Eurosystem (made up of the ECB and the national central banks of the member states that have adopted the euro) has been following oversight standards based on principles laid out by the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) in 2003.

In the intervening 13 years, retail payment systems have become more integrated and the BIS has updated its core principles for financial market infrastructures, the ECB said.

The ECB has identified different categories of retail payment system and laid out the oversight standards applicable to each category. It also gives guidance on how to oversee systems that are covered by more than one central bank.

The framework explains how to identify which retail payment systems can be categorised as systemically important payment systems (SIPS), or systemically important retail payment systems (SIRPS) that have the potential to trigger systemic risks in the marketplace.

Classification is dependent on the financial impact of the system and its degree of market penetration, how much cross-border business it does, and its interdependence with other organisations.

The new framework also introduces a new subset of systems; those which are systemically important because of their geographic scope.

Banking reform expert Tony Anderson of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com said: "Arising from the financial crisis the recognition and protection of systemically important financial infrastructure has become a higher priority amongst legislators including in the UK. Following the plethora of market and regulatory changes since 2003 there is also the need to acknowledge a much wider range of direct and indirect participants to payment systems than the large clearing banks."