Academic journal article Federal Reserve Bank of New York Economic Policy Review

Global Trends in Large-Value Payments

Academic journal article Federal Reserve Bank of New York Economic Policy Review

Global Trends in Large-Value Payments

Article excerpt

* The evolving landscape in which large-value payments systems (LVPSs) operate is having important effects on the financial system.

* An analysis of the current interbank payment environment points to three forces that are shaping ten trends common to LVPSs around the world.

* Technological innovation is making LVPSs safer and more efficient while allowing for new systems that are not limited to one country or currency.

* Structural changes in banking-such as immense growth in the financial sector, changes in the role of firms and their products, and greater globalization of financial institutions and their services-are influencing the use of LVPSs.

* The evolution of central bank policies is resulting in central banks becoming more active in monitoring existing and planned systems, assessing systems according to international standards, and inducing change.

1. INTRODUCTION

Globalization and technological innovation are two of the most pervasive forces affecting the financial system and its infrastructure. Perhaps nowhere are these trends more apparent than in the internationalization and automation of payments. The evolving landscape is most obvious in retail payments. The use of paper checks is in rapid decline or has been eliminated in most of the industrialized world. Credit and debit cards can be used in the most surprising places. Internet banking with money transfer capabilities is common, and several providers are competing to service consumers' payments over the Internet and mobile devices.

In wholesale, or interbank, payments, the effect of globalization and technological innovation is probably less obvious to the casual observer-but it has been equally impressive. Given the importance of payments and settlement systems to the smooth operation as well as resiliency of the financial system, stakeholders need to understand and assess the potential consequences of this evolution. This article offers an in-depth look at the current environment for large-value payments systems (LVPSs). We describe ten trends common to LVPSs around the world and identify the key drivers of these developments and the most important policy issues facing central banks (see box). Furthermore, we provide empirical support for each of the trends by using numerous publicly available sources, including Bank for International Settlements (BIS) statistics on payments and settlement systems in selected countries (the "Red Book"). We focus on large-value payments systems in countries where the central bank is a member of the Committee on Payment and Settlement Systems (CPSS), a body under the auspices of the BIS (Appendix A).

Technological innovation, structural changes in banking, and the evolution of central bank policies are the three main reasons for the recent developments in large-value payments. First, technological innovation has created opportunities to make existing large-value payments systems safer and more efficient. Such innovation has also accommodated the industry's growing need for new types of systems that are not limited to a single country or a currency. Second, the financial sector has experienced immense growth over the last few decades accompanied by changes in the role of individual firms and the products they offer. In addition, financial institutions and their services have become increasingly globalized. These structural changes have affected how participants use largevalue payments systems. Third, the role of central banks in large-value payments systems has changed significantly in recent years. Central banks have become more involved in payments systems and have created formal and systematic oversight functions. The main focus lies in promoting safety and efficiency in LVPSs and in maintaining overall financial stability. Central banks therefore have taken more active roles in monitoring existing and planned systems, in assessing systems according to international standards, and, if necessary, in inducing change. …

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