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Procedure : 2012/2040(INI)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A7-0304/2012

Texts tabled :

A7-0304/2012

Debates :

PV 19/11/2012 - 21
CRE 19/11/2012 - 21

Votes :

PV 20/11/2012 - 6.15
Explanations of votes
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :

P7_TA(2012)0426

Debates
Monday, 19 November 2012 - Strasbourg OJ edition

21. Card, internet and mobile payments (short presentation)
Video of the speeches
PV
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  President. − The next item is a short presentation of the report (A7-0304/2012) by Sampo Terho ‘Towards an integrated European market for card, internet and mobile payments’ [2012/2040(INI)].

 
  
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  Sampo Terho, rapporteur. (FI) Mr President, the card payment market in Europe has high potential for savings and expansion, to say nothing of the potential for mobile and internet payments.

I support the Commission’s view that various payment methods should be promoted, made more secure and more user-friendly. The predominant focus in my own-initiative report is on card payments because I do not think it sensible to impose unnecessarily strict regulation on the mobile and internet payment markets at this stage: the markets are still developing and taking shape, and we cannot predict the payment innovations that the markets will develop over the coming months and years.

The reliability and cost-effectiveness of card, internet and mobile payments are also key to growth of European e-commerce and to the operation of the Digital Single Market. Factors associated with payment security should not have overriding importance, and we must not overemphasise security at the cost of user-friendliness because otherwise the payment systems will not attract users. Similarly we should note that the use of cash is not fully secure either.

One key topic in the preparation of the report was the cost of using payment cards. When the Commission outlines the next steps in the development of payment markets, I hope that, in the name of diversity, it will also consider the costs involved in the use of cash and cheques. When preparing this report, we have discussed Multilateral Interchange Fees, or ‘MIFs’. MIFs are, in some cases, too high in relation to the costs they engender, and they can sometimes obstruct competition.

There are currently no alternative financial models for card payment schemes, and for that reason we cannot, in my view, prohibit the existing business model. It is absolutely vital for the Commission to produce a basic impact assessment before we propose action in relation to MIFs, whether we propose restricting MIFs, gradually reducing them to zero or banning them completely. If we decided to try and ban MIFs, we would run the risk that the cost of maintaining the card scheme would be transferred directly to the card-holder, the consumer, in the form of a charge that might result in a decline in the use of payment cards contrary to the Commission’s original proposal.

I hope that operators other than banks will gain a foothold in the payment market. I do not, however, support third-party access to a customer’s banking information before the security and operation of the scheme can be fully safeguarded.

Finally, when seeking to achieve harmonised technical standards, the basic principle must be to ensure that standardisation removes barriers rather than giving rise to new barriers or to difficulties for market operators. This report is a natural continuation of the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) project: cross-border payments should be as easy as credit transfers in the SEPA area.

 
  
 

Catch-the-eye procedure

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE).(RO) Mr President, the European payments market needs to function as efficiently and accurately as possible. It is still far from reaching its maximum potential, and there are still obstacles that need to be removed. Card, internet or mobile payment can offer consumers a number of advantages. They benefit from faster, more flexible and convenient payment systems. There are still big differences in paying by card from one Member State to another, and markets remain fragmented.

The Single Euro Payments Area will eliminate the existing discrepancies. It will help transform the market, making it more innovative and competitive. Yet the question remains: how secure are these systems in countries with no previous experience of them and where the risk of fraud persists? I think that a high level of security needs to be ensured, as a guarantee against the risk of fraud.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D).(RO) Mr President, the development and large-scale use of card, internet and mobile payment will enable e-commerce to develop in Europe. To facilitate cross-border e-commerce and to guarantee a true digital economy, it is essential to develop transparent, secure and effective payment systems on the European digital market.

Standardisation and interoperability requirements should focus on improving the competitiveness, transparency, innovativeness, payment security and efficiency of the European payments market. I consider that more transparency is needed, together with better information for consumers about the surcharges and supplementary fees that apply to the various payment methods, given that sellers often include the transaction costs in the price of their products and services, so that consumers are not informed appropriately in advance about the total cost.

According to the judgment of the European Court of Justice of 24 May 2012, multilateral interchange fees can be considered to be anti-competitive. How does the Commission intend to implement this judgment?

 
  
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  Christian Engström (Verts/ALE). – Mr President, I would like to highlight one particular article in this report – Article 32. It says that it is likely that more and more companies in Europe will be dependent on having access to credit card payments and it urges the Commission to come up with objective rules to say under what circumstances the big payment providers – Visa, MasterCard and PayPal – may reject a business. This came up in the context of the Wikileaks affair, when the same three big payment services decided to close down a whistleblowers’ website based in Iceland – inside the European Economic Area – because of political pressure from the US. But we also saw only last week that there has been quite a lot of talk in the media about Visa, MasterCard and PayPal deciding to close down a small shop that was selling horror movies simply because they do not like horror movies. I understand that they have now since changed their opinion on that, but it illustrates the problem and I hope the Commission will look seriously at this.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI).(DE) Mr President, whilst cash and invoiced payments remain popular in Europe, the new technologies mean that more and more people are paying using their mobile phones. Therefore, as we know, the credit industry and mobile network operators have developed a range of systems to make wallets and cheque cards redundant.

If people are sceptical, it is primarily on grounds of security, and rightly so, because bank details and passwords are prime targets for the cybercriminals. It is well known that Android smart phones are easy to hack into. There is already enough abuse going on when people have purchases charged to their phone bills. Therefore it is no wonder that irresponsible firms use complicated tricks and totally circumvent consumer safeguards in this regard.

As mobile payments become more common, the EU must thus work for greater security through better consumer protection; it must also, I think, look at appropriate data protection.

 
  
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  Ildikó Gáll-Pelcz (PPE).(HU) Mr President, the aim and content of the report are to be welcomed by all means. In the markets of emerging and developing countries, where bank-card payments, for example, are not yet widespread enough, it is important that the interbank commission strategy concentrates on stimulating the issue side properly. Real efforts must be made to achieve the praiseworthy, ambitious goals conceived in the report as far as card, internet and mobile payments are concerned, but, in any event, the characteristics of the Member States must be taken into consideration during regulation. They must be examined and evaluated individually and thoroughly, for example in the case of re-regulating the interbank commission strategy. In my view, the strategy on the size of the commission must be developed in such a way that, in any event, it promotes growth in the market for payments of this type. In other words, what this means to me is that the strategy must, in any case, be adapted to the level of development and maturity of the relevant payment market.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D).(SK) Mr President, the Commission’s Green Paper on the integrated European market for card, internet and mobile payments points out several barriers which prevent the European payment market from working as efficiently and openly as possible.

The European market for these types of payments is fragmented both across and within national borders. Standardisation in this area should be directed at defining security standards and should include the measures that are necessary to ensure a more open, transparent and innovative – but also competitive – electronic payments market that brings advantages to all consumers. The existence of a neutral and safe European single market for these types of payments, facilitating free competition and innovation, is even more essential from the point of view of achieving a genuine single digital market. Electronic payments are also playing an important role in the fight against the grey economy and against tax evasion. A uniform European Union legal framework in this area must be directed especially at a higher level of protection for the consumer.

 
  
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  Petru Constantin Luhan (PPE). – Mr President, virtual transaction systems are constantly being improved in order to save time and effort for users, but their security is in my opinion a reason to remain vigilant. The vulnerability of virtual transaction systems consists of two main factors: firstly, technical vulnerabilities due to the fact that virtual transactions still represent a new online practice and, secondly, the human ignorance factor. Many people are easily tricked into revealing personal information online and into making unsecure transactions with third-party entities. That is why I think the most important measures which should be taken are: raising user awareness regarding internet transaction security; respecting the recommendations of SecuRe Pay; and last but not least, achieving total transparency of costs for users and the freedom to choose preferred payment methods.

 
  
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  Sergio Gaetano Cofferati (S&D).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the measure we are discussing is very important, and indeed it is useful that the draft text commenting on the Green Paper has concentrated on points surrounding privacy, the security of payments, and training activities so that users can also have the necessary certainty.

However, Commissioner, I would also like to insist on a particular point, which is that of interbank commission payments – especially multilateral ones. Today there are quite considerable differences from one country to another, and sometimes in fact these sums are very high. This represents, as a primary effect, a penalisation of the users and hence consumers, but it also becomes an objective obstacle to developing the market. For this reason, I believe it is very important to consider harmonising these commission payments without delay and then progressively doing away with them.

 
  
 

(End of the catch-the-eye procedure)

 
  
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  Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the Commission. Mr President, I absolutely agree with the discussion and with the speeches by Members saying that payments are one of the most common expressions of the single market for its 500 million citizens.

It is a very rapidly evolving field and it is important that Europe supports the developments providing for simplicity and safety and guaranteeing the best value for payment services used by the citizens.

Now, a lot has been done but we need to go forward, as underlined in the report by Mr Terho, who supports the objectives of the Green Paper and who also argues for a more integrated payment market. This integration was taken forward by the regulations establishing a deadline for the migration to a single Europe payment area for credit transfers and direct debits. Thanks to that, from 2014 on there will be no difference between national and cross-border payments any more.

But a true and integrated internal market in payments must also involve payments by credit card, internet and mobile phone, as underlined by the speakers: we need choice for consumers; we need innovation safety to free up the potential of e-commerce.

You know that we do have problems with e-commerce at this moment, because only 35 % of internet users shop online because of problems related to payments. Therefore there are clearly specific problems to be solved.

First of all, we must defragment the payment services markets, which are far too often national. We must facilitate the access of new entrants and significantly increase the transparency of the cost of the different payment methods. We need to address issues of standardisation, interoperability, security of payments, data protection and the good governance of the system.

We are currently working on all these issues, such as the multilateral interchange fees, surcharges, governance and standardisation, as well as account access and security, and we will need to find the right balance. It will doubtless involve changing the regulatory framework of the directive on payment services.

The rapporteur’s report is a milestone in this debate. It constitutes a good basis for the work that we will carry out together to achieve a well-functioning digital single market beneficial to consumers.

I thank Parliament for its support and I have noted your call to legislate in this field. I can tell you today that your view is fully shared by the Commission and will be realised in the coming months.

 
  
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  President. − That concludes this item.

The vote will take place on Tuesday at 12.00.

Written statements (Rule 149)

 
  
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  Artur Zasada (PPE), in writing. – (PL) More and more EU citizens are making payments by means of payment cards, the internet or portable payment devices, and this is giving rise to constant expansion of the electronic commerce sector. To support competitiveness, it is essential to eliminate differences between domestic and cross-frontier payments, which, at the present time, are hidden or inflated in many cases. It has become especially important to prevent imitation of the dishonest practices of certain economic players, consisting in the multiple charging of the cost of credit card transactions where a number of purchases are effected through a single payment transaction (my question of 26 October 2010 – E-8649/2010), as in the case of airlines. It has also become necessary to standardise and unify the operation of payment terminals so that they cater for all types of card.

Increasing the confidence of payers, who must be persuaded that their electronic transactions are secure, is a separate but equally important issue requiring attention. Consumers opting for a cashless form of payment must be guaranteed protection of their personal data and the security of data concerning their bank transactions. The development of a Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) requires the continuous removal of a series of barriers to operation of the European payments market set out in the European Commission’s Green Paper.

 
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