Friday, November 18, 2005

Bank-retailer agreement signed: pinnen gets cheaper...

Yesterday an important agreement was signed at the central bank. It involves three bits:
1-all banks will lower the fee for acquiring debit-card transactions with at least one cent; retailers will drop all pending law-suits on this topic;
2-the banks will setup a fund of 10 million euro so that banks and retailers may use the money to further promote innovation and efficiency in payments
3-banks, retailers and all parties involved will work together to determine which measures, communication, positive and negative incentives can be used to make Dutch payment more efficient.

Mr Zalm, the Dutch Minister of Finance commented on the agreement in his speech, explaining that it confirms that the market functions properly. He stated that it also confirms that the so-called Social Platform on Payments (a halfyearly round table forum of representatives of all users and supliers in the payments market) proves its use.

Zalm also outlined the challenge ahead. He noted that the often quoted low Dutch fees in the World Banking Report are only the visible fees to consumers. The real costs however are larger. Therefore he suggested that the market should work towards more transparent and direct pricing of payments. This statement is similar to that of numerous central bank speeches of the last years.

The final good news is that, contrary to popular belief, the competition authority has no fundamental objections to this agreement (see their informal view here); it does want to see the details of further collective actions of course.

So onwards to further efficiency and direct pricing it is...