As digitalisation has progressed, so too has electronic payment in its different forms. Today, electronic payment is the most important retail payment method in Finland. The aim of the Bank of Finland’s electronic payment principles is to ensure that payment solutions operate reliably in all situations and are effective for society as a whole.

In the Bank of Finland’s view: 1) a variety of payment methods must be available that are suited to different situations and also enable payment for different user groups; 2) electronic payment methods must be secure and reliable; 3) payment systems must be open and function effectively for society as a whole; and 4) electronic payment methods must support the ability of consumers to manage their own finances and must protect users from abuses.

Payment is a critical activity for the functioning of society and cannot be allowed to rely excessively on individual entities or systems. Consumers must have options from which they can choose the payment method best suited to them for a particular situation,” said Tuomas Välimäki, Member of the Board of the Bank of Finland. Välimäki presented the electronic payment principles when opening the Bank of Finland’s Payments Forum event.

Making payments is a fundamental banking service that must be accessible on an equal basis also in its electronic form. The principles for electronic payment serve to complement the cash payment principles published by the Bank of Finland in 2018 (in Finnish).

Geopolitical uncertainty has added to the probability of disruptions in the financial sector as well. This has accentuated the importance of preparedness in the field of payments. Core banking and payment services are a key part of Finland’s national security of supply. They must function under all circumstances.

“Finland has an excellent and comprehensive system of preparedness, where public authorities and the private sector work together to manage the functions vital to society. That said, I encourage everyone involved to work towards raising the standard of preparedness to an even higher level,” said Bank of Finland Governor Olli Rehn, speaking at the Payments Forum.

There are many benefits from using alternative payment methods. Competition encourages innovation and keeps the costs of payment at a moderate level, and it also provides alternatives for coping in disruptive situations. “An appropriate range of options makes sense in terms of risk management, and this applies to payments as well. The best payment backup systems will be those that we are already familiar with in normal times,” said Governor Rehn.

Where households have made preparations to cope with payment disruptions, this will be of great significance for society, but above all for household members themselves. If, for instance, one bank’s services are unavailable for a period of time, it will be of benefit if the household has an account and payment card in two different banks. Certainty over the functioning of everyday money matters can be improved by using an instant payment application as an alternative to card payments. It is also good to have a small amount of cash at home to cover outgoings for several days ahead as part of normal preparedness.

The Payments Forum topics this year were mobile payment, the costs of payment, and securing effective payments.