Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Economic impact of the single euro area... ECB research

The fun thing of policy research is that it always gets you the desired result (as apposed to scientifc research where you seek out to dismiss a hypothesis. Last year the ECB set out to do some work on the economic impact of the single euro area. And now, the result is here.

The ECB has carried out in cooperation with the banking industry a SEPA impact study with the aim of enriching its understanding of the potential economic consequences of SEPA. Based on the quantitative and qualitative expectations of major pan-European banks, the study finds that a dual SEPA implementation phase should be as short as possible. In fact, a longer migration period would give rise to higher costs than a shorter period. It can furthermore be concluded that those institutions that embrace new technological developments, create new businesses and provide innovative services are likely to gain most from SEPA.

Well, that's of course the desired ECB answer (I guess deep inside they still stick to their former 2010 deadline for phasing out national payment products...). But it is by no means the whole picture. A lot more is happening then just a move to technological EPC-standards. Like the major impact of the Payment Services Directive. And the report outlines on that issue:
The scope and impact of the PSD goes far beyond SEPA, e.g. in terms of currencies, products and players. Overall, the banks shared the view that the PSD introduces rules with uncertain consequences on the payments business and their financial results. At the time of this analysis, the participating banks preferred not to commingle the pure SEPA impact analysis with a PSD analysis, as this might dilute the results and lead to unbalanced conclusions. The interviewed banks acknowledged that the main effects of the PSD stem from the extension of information obligations, shortening of transaction times, tightening of liability regulations for payment service providers, and more stringent processing of cancellations of transactions. However, at the current stage, the banks felt they were not yet well enough equipped to provide any precise estimate concerning the potential economic impact of the PSD.

Meaning: while the technical and migration stuff is already giving banks a headache, the implementation of new legal rules all across the board may be hitting the banks even harder. Thus undoubtedly raising the cost of doing payment business and thus raising the barriers for entrants even more...