​On 7 May 2013, the Bank of Finland arranged the seventh meeting of the Payments Forum, where payment sector experts discussed upcoming regulatory reforms for retail payments, as well as the challenges and opportunities brought about by new payment sector participants and payment methods. Another topic of discussion was how electronic payments support wider utilisation of digital data and how international firms manage to cope with the jungle of payment methods that differ greatly across the globe.

In his opening remarks to the Payments Forum, Erkki Liikanen, Governor of the Bank of Finland, emphasised the importance to society of well-functioning payments and payment systems.

‘Reliable and efficient payment systems are often taken for granted. However, they are underpinned by a large number of various participants who must be capable of smoothly working together. In order to ensure the security and efficiency of payment systems also in the future, cooperation between all participants in the payment chain is necessary,’ underlined Mr Liikanen.

Liikanen defined five criteria that he considered important in developing payment systems: technical efficiency, non-discrimination and accessibility, effective and cost-based pricing, continuity and maintenance support performance, as well as international compatibility.

In connection with the Payments Forum, a SEPA forum was held for the fifth and last time. Upon termination of the work of the SEPA forum, however, cooperation in the development of retail payments needs to be continued. For this reason, the Bank of Finland proposed the establishment of a Payments Council as a new cooperative body to pursue the activities of the Payments and the SEPA forum.

The purpose of the Payments Council is to create a framework for cooperation between service providers, users and authorities that helps to ensure the provision of secure and efficient payment services also in the future. The aim is that payments-related solutions will make use of the latest technology and innovations, support migration to the real-time economy and meet the requirements of the different groups of users. A further goal is to make Finland a leader for the 2020s in the area of payments.

For more information on the Payments Forum, please contact Marianne Palva, Adviser, (marianne.palva(at)bof.fi, tel. +358 10 831 2304). For more details on the SEPA forum, please see the webpage of the Federation of Finnish Financial Services (www.fkl.fi).