15 July 2020
A better ecosystem for payments
The group wants to promote a rules-based competitive single market with an innovative climate through constructive dialogue with policymakers and other stakeholders shaping the European payments landscape. They aim to help create a better payments ecosystem, to increase international competitiveness over the long term and to support businesses, consumers and governments - in short, all of Europe - on the way out of the current health and economic crises.
As an EDPIA member, Worldline is particularly committed to managing the changes in digital payments accelerated by COVID-19. Wolf Kunisch, Head of Strategy, Public & Regulatory Affairs at Worldline, commented on the company's position within the EDPIA:
Mr Kunisch, why did Worldline decide to join forces with the EDPIA on payment transactions?
Wolf Kunisch: We want to combine our innovative strength with other leading independent payment service providers in a non-commercial association to work with decision-makers and other stakeholders to make Europe into the global market leader in the field of payment transactions. This can only be achieved if we not only develop competitively appropriate services and products along the entire value chain but also clearly define the environment for electronic payments and positively change the image and understanding of the European payments industry amongst decision-makers and society as a whole.
The EDPIA is not the first group to represent the interests of the payments industry in the EU. Why create an addition to EPIF or Payments Europe - to name but a few?
Wolf Kunisch: Of course, there are already several interest groups in Brussels with different concerns. Nevertheless, we’ve found that the debates by decision-makers often overlook or under-consider perspectives from Europe’s independent specialists in the processing of payments, card acceptance and other background functions. We want to change that and move towards greater digitalisation in the financial sector by making the processes behind the daily payment terminals and online payment services more comprehensible, as well as adapting to meet new challenges such as Covid-19.
What distinguishes it from other interest groups?
Wolf Kunisch: As the only industry association, we represent payment services providers that are based in Europe and do not offer financial services themselves. We see ourselves as complementary to other interest groups, i.e., we are pro-competition and neither anti-bank nor anti-big tech, nor are we against established payment systems such as Visa and Mastercard. We believe that Europe has reached a crossroads in electronic payments. As a result of Covid-19, the trend is clearly towards contactless payment, as a study by MasterCard shows. Contactless payment is becoming more and more of a "must-have", partly because many suspect cash as a possible carrier of infection.
So, the digitalisation of payment transactions will be given a new boost in the future due to the engagement of the EDPIA?
Wolf Kunisch: We will welcome all initiatives that support digital payments, as well as an open and competitive payments market in Europe. At the same time, however, we can only achieve major changes if we also create incentives. If we succeed from the outset in creating a more independent European payments system, that will - in the long term - give traders, consumers and other payment chain actors a sense of having a say in the design and being the primary beneficiaries of it. Projects such as SEPA and PSD2 would provide a good basis for this.
To strengthen our position in this area, we plan on bringing on board other companies in the payments industry. Discussions are already underway with 11 other potential EDPIA members. We are also open to membership by industry newcomers that are European, independent and specialists in payments.
What is your role as Head of Strategy, Public & Regulatory Affairs at Worldline?
Wolf Kunisch: My role is to develop the group's positions, ideas and proposals and to put them before representative bodies. As payment specialists, we want to actively shape the strategic course for the future in the payments sector. This led Worldline to prepare a report ("The World after COVID-19") that collected insights and suggestions regarding possible digitisation trends. We will bring these into our debates.
We expect Covid-19-related measures, such as the lockdown and remote working, to provide a lasting boost to the virtualisation of activities and services, with several different consequences for businesses. While some need to focus on their survival, others need to address huge growth leaps or logistical requirements and new challenges, such as greater consideration of data protection, new supply chains, and more efficient cost and sustainability management. This is especially successful when we use technologies that enable these business trends while strengthening the resilience and agility of companies, so they can react more quickly to change.
Thank you very much, Mr Kunisch, for the interview!