Monday, May 9, I had the pleasure of attending the European Automated Clearing House Association (EACHA) Payments Forum in Madrid for the first time with my colleague Andrew Gomez. EACHA is composed of 26 different ACHs from 23 different countries across Europe, and its mission is to primarily exchange information on issues of shared interest, such as strategies for instant payment adoption, cybersecurity, fraud, digital currencies, and others.
Besides the heads of CSMs across Europe, the conference brings together many of the world’s most incisive thought leaders from technology and solution providers, regulators, payments associations, and consultancies. It was truly an honor to be among this distinguished group.
The program began with a presentation from Ceu Pereira, who gave an update on the European Commission’s digital retail payments strategy over a year since it was put in place, which served as a useful level-setting exercise to commence the day. She discussed the need to improve adherence to SCT Inst to achieve ubiquitous European cross-border instant payments, and provided updates on the Commission’s legislative and non-legislative initiatives to advance its retail payments planned for the second half of the year.
The next session, led by Gijs Boudewijn, the head of the Dutch Payments Association, focused on lessons learned from the success of SCT Inst in Netherlands, where all one-off consumer-initiated payments are now instant. One of the key lessons that he identified was the power that cooperation and coordination among banks to migrate mass volume can have, which we have also observed to be the case in other markets, such asSingapore, Spain, and Sweden.
The morning session concluded with some insights from Michael Salomy, formerly of Worldline, who dissected the hype around challenger banks in his presentation titled “Challenges for Challengers”. One of my favorite quotes from his presentation was “Brits would rather get divorced than dump their banks” – alluding to the fact that more Brits got divorced last year than changed banks. Though humorous, his point was salient; one of the greatest challenges for neo banks is the difficulty of attracting a broader customer base than simply a niche group of millennials (i.e. easier said than done).
The afternoon bloc began with a couple of presentations on fraud, which is a huge topic of interest to all the ACHs. Nearly all types of fraud, but especially authorized push payment (APP) fraud has become increasingly rampant and sophisticated in almost all markets.More and more operators globally are looking to implement or develop centralized real-time fraud monitoring and detection services in response. Jose Luis Langa and Laura Tamayo of IberPay presented on the ACH’s anti-fraud efforts as of late, which have included the introduction of PayGuard in 2020, a value-added service that allows FIs to confirm if the beneficiary account of a payment has been involved in unauthorized operations, and then shares such information with other system participants. Later on, Richard Luff of Mastercard, also presented on Vocalink’s Mule Insights Tactical Solution (MITS), developed with the UK’s retail payment system operator, Pay.UK. MITS is a system that traces dispersed illicit funds across the UK’s Faster Payments System in real-time, and provides information to banks to more quickly identify mule accounts used for money-laundering. An interesting anecdote that he shared is that based on their data, roughly 65 percent of illicit funds exit the payment system via a crypto“cash-out. He also noted that Vocalink plans to launch more functionalities as part of the solution in the near-term, including risk-scoring, which have been extremely useful to banks in other markets.
The day concluded with a discussion about one of the hottest buzzwords right now in payments: CBDCs. Although there was nothing new shared or exchanged from the ECB or others, it was still interesting to discuss with some of the attendees afterward their thoughts on whether a digital euro is needed in Europe, and how a digital euro ecosystem could look like in the future.
Despite the many insightful presentations and speakers, the best part of the conference was clearly having the chance to network and chat with people after such a long time of remote working and virtual conferences. For me specifically, it included the opportunity to finally meet some people in person who I had been working with over the past 2+years.
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Lipis Advisors has in-depth knowledge about how initiatives across the payments industry are being implemented globally. We excel at researching and analyzing trends in payments and the systems behind them. Together, our team has over 50 years of experience in the payments industry. We come from 9 countries and speak 11 languages. We are experts in over 60 markets across the Americas, Europe, Africa, and Asia.