Monday, January 15, 2007

SEPA deadlines under threat...?

This Finextra article quotes the chair of the European Payments Council (EPC), Gerard Hartsink. He stated that banks will miss the first single euro payments area (Sepa) deadline for direct debits because of delays in passing a new Payment Services Directive (PSD). The news was picked up by the Financieele Dagblad with the Dutch Ministry of Finance commenting that indeed the PSD is delayed and outlining that they rather see a solid PSD than a quick and dirty one.

Reuters today also reported that Visa Europe stated today:
Scrapping retailers' credit card proceesing fees would jeopardise the European Union's plans to create a cheaper cross-border payments system for the bloc's consumers and companies.
The Visa-statement anticipates the outcome of the European Commissions card enquiry (of which the final results are due to be unveiled on Jan. 31). And it does hit the hammer on the head. For European business models to work, one needs a true European approach. And not one that bashes banks and/or card schemes but one that respects the necessary ingredients for payment systems: interchange fees for new products being one.

What I find interesting here is that the interchange fee issue is not mentioned by Mr Hartsink as an obstacle. Why is it that apparently only the players in the cards-market seems to be worried as to the outcome of the Competition Enquiry of the European Commission? Would not a competition authority inspired no-go for direct debit interchange also be a serious barrier to the whole SEPA-exercise?