The festive season is fast approaching and people are starting to scratch their heads about what kind of gifts their loved ones would appreciate the most. We have done our own research across Europe and found out that what really matters is thoughtfulness. So, if you want to show you care during the festive season, then put a little thought into the gifts you buy. For my part, I wish for European policy makers to put the same thought into their final decisions on the legislation that will regulate the European payments industry.
Over the past year, the three EU institutions (EU Commission, European Parliament and the Council of the EU) have defined their individual positions. Now, they are finally sitting around the table to find a solution that works for all of them. It is crucial that they make the right choices and come to well thought out compromises that ensure that the payments landscape remains competitive and responsive to consumers’ and retailers’ needs. If they don’t, consumers are likely to return to cash – a trend that no government or EU institution can support, given the costs, inefficiencies and shadow economy issues related to it.
It is no secret that the way in which consumers interact, shop and pay is evolving very quickly. E- and now m-commerce is growing exponentially. People use their smartphones and tablets to compare products, prices and shop online or in-store.
To meet these evolving demands, the industry needs to innovate constantly. MasterCard is currently rolling out MasterPass, the digital payment solution that simplifies the entire shopping experience for consumers –to the ultimate benefit of retailers. Two months ago, we also partnered with Apple to launch Apple Pay to make mobile payments even easier and more secure. And that is just us. Our competition, including highly innovative startups, isn’t sleeping.
But useful innovation can only come about if there is fair competition and everybody is treated equally. For that to happen, the legal framework in which we operate needs to be technology-neutral, future-proof and apply to all market players in the same way.
There is still a possibility that under the new European rules, some of the most expensive market players will be exempted from certain aspects of the legislation based on their business model, their practices or their market position. As I have mentioned before, the danger is that this will lead to distorted competition at the expense of consumers and retailers. This is hardly what the new legislation was designed to achieve.
For me, as for most of you, the most important gifts are the ones which have had some thought put into them. If I were to make a wish this Christmas beyond good health for my loved ones, it would be for a thoughtful piece of legislation that puts consumers first and treats the rest of us payment providers in the same, equal way.