Forum Meeting: Further strengthening of Dutch payment system

Press release
Date 22 May 2014

The National Forum on the Payment System (Maatschappelijk Overleg Betalingsverkeer)  oversees supplementary measures to further strengthen the digital payment infrastructure in the Netherlands. These measures will affect online banking, iDEAL payments and debit card payments. Also, the Forum has issued recommendations to ensure the availability and accessibility of ATMs. These are the main issues discussed in the Forum meeting held on 21 May 2014.Other topics discussed were faster settlement of payments, the SEPA migration and the risks of virtual currencies.

Strengthening the digital payment infrastructure

The National Forum on the Payment System (the Forum) oversees measures to strengthen the digital payments infrastructure. Recently – partly in response to earlier disruptions – banks and telecom companies have taken such measures. Banks have expanded their data processing capabilities and installed anti-DDoS filters in order to minimise the effects of DDoS attacks. The interdependence between transaction flows arising from online banking and from iDEAL payments is being reduced to increase the availability of both forms of payment. Telecom providers have developed new network services in order to reduce disruptions of the POS debit card payments chain as much as possible. The Forum welcomes the banks' intention to disclose figures on the availability of online and mobile banking facilities via the Dutch Payments Association (Betaalvereniging Nederland) starting in the third quarter 2014. The Forum will monitor the effects of the measures being implemented and report again toward the end of this year. 

Availability of ATMs

The Forum has issued recommendations to ensure the availability and accessibility of ATMs. A recent Forum study has revealed  that the percentage of Dutch citizens living within a 5 km radius from an ATM has declined fractionally, from 99.65% to 99.59%. Complaints by ATM users mainly relate to banks' inadequate communication about the removal of ATMs. 

The Forum welcomes banks' initiative, subject to the consent of the Consumer and Market Authority (Autoriteit Consument en Markt), to start a pilot entering into agreements on the provision of ATMs in smaller communities and rural areas in dialogue with users. Also, an interim report on ATM availability (Tussenrapportage bereikbaarheid van geldautomaten) recommends tailor-made solutions in ATM placement policies, improved communication about the removal of ATMs and remaining alternatives, and improved publicity on the Forum’s rules on ATM availability.The interim report is to be presented to the Minister of Finance. The Forum will re-evaluate ATM availability in mid-2015. 

Faster processing of retail payments

The Forum promotes faster processing of retail payments. In November 2014, banks, together with De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB), will present a detailed plan envisioning faster processing of retail payments, building on the existing infrastructure. The aim is to see that payments are credited more quickly to creditors' accounts. The banks note, meanwhile, that the plan is not so simple to realise and will take some time, for instance because part of the payment chain is located abroad. The plan will first cover POS debit card payments, iDEAL transactions and digital credit transfers during weekends and official holidays.

The Forum urges timely SEPA migration

The Forum discussed the state of affairs regarding the migration to European payment standards in the context of SEPA (Single Euro Payments Area). Of the sixty thousand companies and other entities that had not migrated at end-2013, some thirty thousand mainly small to very small parties remain. The Forum urges these parties to take action to ensure their migration by 1 August at the latest. From that date, banks will no longer accept the legacy payment order formats. A final nation-wide publicity campaign will be held in June and July of this year, with special attention to senior citizens and the physically challenged. 

Meanwhile, the Forum is concerned about signals that companies distinguish in direct debits between bank account numbers (IBAN) from their own country and those from other EU Member States. The Forum intends to set up a (web based) reporting centre to handle complaints. This issue will have to be addressed at an international level. 

Virtual currencies

The Forum warns against the risks posed by virtual currencies such as bitcoin. The Forum notes that such currencies and the entities trading in such currencies are not subject to any form of supervision. There is no central issuing party that can be held liable where necessary, and the exchange rate of virtual currencies tends to be volatile. Nor are balances covered by a deposit guarantee scheme. Since the bitcoin network is pseudo-anonymous, this virtual currency forms an attractive target for criminal activities. 

 

Notes for the press
The Forum seeks to improve the safety, reliability, accessibility and efficiency of the Dutch payment system. The Forum brings together a broad base of representatives from providers and users of payment instruments. It is chaired by DNB. For more information you may contact DNB spokesman Remko Vellenga at +31 (0)6 524 96574.