Monday, January 08, 2007

Lessons for SEPA from the US checks ...?

I haven't as of yet had time to read this research paper completely, but I imagine there may be some lessons for SEPA in this historical paper on development of check-systems and interstate clearing in the US. If not just the message that payments and payment infrstructures develop/follow the economy. As an economy grows and becomes integrated, payment systems will follow.

It is going to be quite interesting to see if the EU-approach of putting the horse behind the carriage (starting with monetary and payments integration and hoping that the political and economic structures will follow) is going to work. While we all seem to be used to the EU regulators beating and slave-driving the horse (banking system) onto the SEPA-road, any more distant observer will note that there is no use beating it when it is still behind the carriage.

Yet, it appears that reflection is an attitude that is not appeciated in Brussels. Rather than fundamentally challenging and rethinking Europe, we seem to push forward to EU-constituencies, EU-payments, fully open markets and what have you. So, in style with the mythology we are taken hostage by the forceful Zeus (representing of course the forceful power of open markets ideology taken to the extreme).

What I don't remember from the history books is if that companionship of Zeus and Europa was a happy one. Well, we're bound to soon find out.