Thursday, April 06, 2006

Central bank director goes commercial...?

In a move which highly contrasts the good old central banker conduct, newly appointed DNB-director Klopper did not spend any time on regulatory or fundamental constitutional deliberations that we are so used from central bankers. Rather he gave this motivational (?) speech on 'Payment Innovation beyond SEPA'.

Do note the high frequency of the terms mobile (13) and contactless (9) in this speech. And do note as well that he seriously dislikes the product Chipknip (whereas his predecessors were keen to point out that Chipknip was by far the cheapest of all non-cash point of sale payments).

There is no mention of the need to make pricing of payments more transparent for costs in society to become as low as possible.... and no sign of the consideration that this means that essentially also cash should be priced rather than subsidized.

We may thus conclude that in this brave new (SEPA) world even central bankers are no longer central bankers. In this realm where the force of logic and analysis used to reign, the only concern now seems to be that the public will not like the conclusion of the analysis: direct pricing of payment instruments.

And if the above is a reflection of a general trend within central banks, it will not be the new payment instruments that will make central banks redundant in the far future (see Mervyn Kings prediction of some years ago). Rather this will be the result of annoyed politicians and citizens who are fed up with highly paid central bankers that acts as politicians while pretending to be central bankers.