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European Payments Council criticises EC anti-trust e-payments investigation

The European Payments Council (EPC) has spoken out against the European Commission's anti-trust investigation into the development of e-payment standards.

The European Payments Council (EPC) has spoken out against the European Commission's anti-trust investigation into the development of e-payment standards.

The European Commission (EC) is investigating whether emerging banking standards for e-payments are anti-competitive. Representing the European banking industry, the EPC - including UK members Barclays, Citibank and HSBC - has been developing standards to create Single Euro Payment Area (SEPA)-wide online payments.

The EPC has dismissed suggestions that such standards are preventing new payment providers entering the e-payments market.

Gerard Hartsink, EPC's chairman, said: "The EPC does not support the allegations by the competition directorate general of the EC that the EPC's work in this area could potentially discriminate against new market entrants or other service providers.

"The EPC is continuously providing full and transparent information available to all stakeholders, including the EC, on the EPC's activities in the area of online payments. To-date, related work remains in progress and no final documentation has been published," he said.

In a statement, the EPC said several EU authorities had requested the European banking industry to develop SEPA-wide payments as a matter of urgency.

Hartsink advised the EC to "align its views on the merit of market integration and innovation on the one hand and competition on the other". He warned that inconsistencies in EC objectives will hamper SEPA progress.

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