The Eurosystem's retail payments strategy

The Eurosystem published in November 2023 its updated retail payments strategy, which was first developed in 2019 and then expanded in 2020. The strategy continues to promote European retail payment solutions that are safe and efficient for society as a whole, and it aims at meeting the rising challenges to European sovereignty in the payments market.

The main goals of the strategy remain the development of pan-European solutions for payments at the point of interaction (POI) that are governed at the European level, and the further strengthening of the "classic" SEPA, primarily through the full deployment of instant payments. The Eurosystem is now explicit as regards:

i. assisting the European Commission and national authorities in addressing the illegal practice of IBAN discrimination (i.e. hindering the payer from using a payment account issued in a different SEPA country),

ii. making existing SEPA schemes for direct debit and credit transfer future-proof, and

iii. acknowledging the potential of the SEPA Payment Account Access Scheme to ensure a choice of payment solutions at the POI.

Improving cross-border payments as well as supporting innovation and digitalisation continue to constitute goals of the revised strategy.

Moreover, and in response to geopolitical developments and the ever-growing reliance on electronic payments, the Eurosystem has set a new goal as regards increasing the resilience of retail payments. This entails ensuring the availability of a fallback option that will be at least sufficient for a minimum service, in case one type of payment solution does not work temporarily. This would be supported by having several payment solutions that do not rely exclusively on the same technology.

The Eurosystem makes clear that the revised retail payments strategy and the digital euro project, which was launched in October 2021, are complementary and analyses the ways in which the digital euro would contribute to the strategy's goals.