EBICS as the European standard for mobile payments?

With all the developments currently taking place in mobile payments, it's easy to get lost. New solution providers are almost sprouting like mushrooms and there's a whole maze of technical standards. In a growing field of business, banks risk being left behind. Could a European standard such as EBICS be an answer?

The same rules apply for mobile payments as for transaction-based EBICS payments: there has to be secure communication, unique authentication and the confidentiality of order and master data. In the case of mobile payments this means a “secure element” (SD card, SIM, HCE, etc.), and encompassing the various transfer techniques (QR code, barcode, NFC, BLE, etc.). At the moment, there seem to be no rules in place, with all types of players entering the market. From large credit card providers, hardware producers (Apple, Samsung) to specialised service providers – they are all currently vying with the banks for transferring payments. For banks the task is very challenging because institutions will be able to opt for some services but not all.

For uniform and secure payment transactions, app developers and clients would need a standard protocol such as EBICS or FinTS. Such standards are well established in the rest of the payments sector. And with rules set out with ISO 20022 and SEPA, it'd be possible to reach around 400 million European account holders immediately. The first standards for mobile payments are provided, for example, by Jiffy from SIA Italy, a solution based entirely on SEPA.

This would also be beneficial to consumers and banks in that no third parties are involved with transactions fees, as is particularly the case with credit card payments – and additionally with ApplePay. The institutions would regain control of the market. Organisations such as the European Payments Council (EPC) could introduce and refine the standard in Europe.

Perhaps it's pushing it a bit, calling EBICS the standard for mobile payments, because EBICS has been developed primarily for asynchronous processing. However, my fellow bloggers have already pointed out where there is potential to extend EBICS here: Interactions would have to be performed in real time. One synchronous response per single transaction would be necessary. If, in the near future, real-time clearing also becomes established throughout Europe, this might all be worthwhile. I wonder what your feedback will be.

Carsten Miehling


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