In recent years the development of national payments systems, in particular of retail payments, has being geared in many countries to increasing the overall efficiency of payments and to the promotion and achievement of financial inclusion objectives. Development of digital financial services (and in general the shift from cash and paper-based instruments to electronic) and the expansion of the networks of service delivery/customer access points to bring financial services closer to where people live and transact have been regarded as critical tools for the achievement of financial inclusion and overall efficiency objectives.
Beyond the expansion of networks through new branches, agent banking, and delivery channels such as ATMs, POS terminals or mobile banking platforms, achieving interoperability of the various payment services offered is another key tool to enhance the proximity of financial services to all individuals and to increase overall convenience to the end-users. Retail payments in many countries are therefore being deliberately developed in these directions.
Wide-reaching objectives like the ones mentioned earlier affect multiple layers of stakeholders (i.e. from regulators to typical payment service providers, to new/innovative payment service providers, to payment network operators, to end-users, etc.) and are therefore highly complex and difficult to attain. Experience shows that these objectives are very often only achievable with the deliberate, collaborative and organized actions by a broad range of stakeholders from the public and private sectors, typically implemented through cooperation fora.