International Council drives network payment interoperability

Representatives of European and North American online banking enabled e-payments (OBeP) schemes are collaborating to establish common standards and rules for global interoperability of OBeP schemes.

Delegates from OBeP schemes iDEAL (Netherlands), giropay (Germany), VocaLink (UK), NACHA (USA) and INTERAC Online (Canada), have attended meetings of the International Council of Payment Network Operators (ICPNO) and are in the process of evaluating how the schemes might easily work together.

These OBeP schemes allow consumers to pay for online purchases using their trusted online banking systems. Adoption of these OBeP schemes is being driven by consumer demand for confidential and secure online payment options. Such payment methods, with real time authentication, have also proven attractive for merchants. The ICPNO initiative’s goal is to link all participating schemes thus allowing a consumer in Country A, using online banking, to make a purchase from an online merchant in Country B.

Jan Estep, president and CEO of NACHA, The Electronic Payments Association, stated: “NACHA is supportive of industry initiatives like ICPNO which seek to leverage existing electronic payment functionality that provide benefit to all stakeholders. We hope to provide guidance to ICPNO on ways in which the US ACH network is currently utilised to provide value to our financial institution members.”

The group is currently working to define the interoperability requirements of the schemes and has made good progress to date. The group will be meeting regularly to continue to develop the ICPNO standards for global scheme interoperability by considering key issues such as technology, international settlement, legal compliance, security, communications, fee structure and exchange rate mechanisms.

Richard Brierley-Jones of the ICPNO, commented: “OBeP schemes around the world see the huge opportunity created by interoperability, giving online merchants access to a global online customer base across participating schemes and we are pleased by the support and rapid progress made by the group to date.

“The participating scheme operators are collaborating to jointly achieve the goal of interoperability by agreeing common standards and rules for interoperability within existing cross border settlement rules and infrastructure,” he added.

The ICPNO has already established open communication with the eChannels Taskforce of the European Payments Council (EPC) to promote cooperation where possible and minimize risk of unnecessary duplications of efforts or conflicting standards being developed.

Council participation is open to OBeP scheme operators around the globe or to organizations planning to establish an OBeP scheme in their country. The ICPNO is working towards agreeing the interoperability framework by Q2 of 2009.

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