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EC renews efforts to persuade banks to join TIPS instant payments

The European Commission has renewed efforts to persuade more banks to sign up the Target Instant Payments Settlement (TIPS) initiative, launched by the European Union (EU) last November.

EC vice-president Valdis Dombrovskis, who leads its financial services policy, has previously criticised banks for their slowness in making use of the EU’s real-time payments infrastructure and again hinted that there might be a regulatory push to boost participation.

Slow traction

The European Central Bank (ECB) has begun work on updates to the TIPS scheme after recent reports that no more than 30 banks across the eurozone have signed up. Last month, seeking to build momentum for the service, the ECB invited firm to submit ideas for building on the initiative at an event it will host at its Frankfurt head offices on 6-7 May.

TIPS is currently available to consumers and businesses across 19 states in the eurozone, offering near real-time payments via smartphones, PCs and in-store payment points. The initiative aims to help banks benefit from the growing popularity of digital, contactless payment services offered by major tech firms such as Apple, Google, Amazon and China’s Alibaba in China.

The ECB has acknowledged acknowledges that consumers need user-friendly ways to make instant payments if TIPS is to gain traction.

The Commission is keen for TIPS to succeed as a widely-used pan-European, fast bank-to-bank payment network that “could have the capacity to disrupt existing payment solutions - including cards - at least for euro denominated payments”.

Dombrovskis has stressed that TIPS and the revised Payment Services Directive (PSD2), are both vital to maintaining Europe’s competitiveness in the face of technological competition from the US, China and elsewhere.

“In a few years, we want Europe to set new global standards for payments technology,” he said earlier this year. “Other parts of the world like China are building their payment systems directly on a digital basis. So we should seize our current opportunity and accelerate our efforts to digitalise our payments.”

The scheme received a modest boost last week when the Latvian central bank, Latvijas Banks, announced several “new functionalities” for instant payments in the country, which included connecting to TIPS.

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