Cross-border bank laws will lead to IT upheaval

New European regulations to reduce the cost of transferring money across international borders could have major implications for...

New European regulations to reduce the cost of transferring money across international borders could have major implications for IT departments at UK banks, analysts warned this week.

The European Commission regulations will require bank charges for cross-border payments in the euro zone to be the same as those for similar domestic transactions.

The regulations, which were adopted by the European Parliament in December, are due to come into force in July.

Banking bodies believe the rules could lead to banks having to develop a new clearing house or link existing clearing systems to create a European-wide payment infrastructure.

According to the European Central Bank, a technology infrastructure to support cheaper cross-border money transfers could be implemented two years after consensus is reached within the banking industry.

Analysts have advised IT managers at UK banks to become involved now in discussions to shape the new cross-border infrastructure that the regulations will require, rather that having systems in which they had no input forced upon them at a later date.

Many banks still have largely manual systems for processing lower-value, cross-border payments.

"The concern now [for IT directors] is that a lot of cross-border transfers are still done fairly manually," said Daniel Mayo, lead analyst at Datamonitor. "Costs for this are typically high."

If European banks decide to link their domestic clearing houses, they will require some standardisation of message protocols, said Mayo. Target, an existing real-time payment service, could be used to help link systems in different countries.

The more radical option of developing a single European clearing house for cross-border payments would be an a massive IT project, and is less likely, said Mayo. "It would be the equivalent of all the major stock exchanges merging into one," he explained.

  • Meanwhile, Visa International this week revealed plans to allow European customers to transfer money directly between their Visa credit and debit cards by the autumn.

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