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Diversity, security, liability, regulation

Week 17, 2011

The arrival of new players in the payment industry raises issues of liability and regulation. Africa has been ahead of us in this issue. For a few years, mobile money programs, such as M-PESA in Kenya, have run in a relatively unregulated environment, and were thus criticized by the classic operators, the existing financial institutions, for not having to provide guarantees to government authorities and not participating in financing the economy through loans. The Kenyan government recently started to regulate mobile money (cf. Smart Insights Weekly #11-13).

Now, the same issues are reaching a worldwide level. When new entrants become global players in the mobile payment area, the need for regulating authorities becomes more urgent. And along with the need for regulations, comes the need for a clear establishment of liability in case anything goes wrong in a payment transaction. Governments, central banks, and other authorities are going to have to set up a new set of rules as the rollout of new payment instruments goes on. Of course, as these regulations are to be based on existing ones in the payment field, our secure transactions industry has to play a role in making sure these regulations will fit with both the consumer protection interests and the industry needs.

Then, once national rules will have been established, international payments will come very soon, and along with them, the need for global rules.

Thierry Spanjaard

Chief Editor

Smart Insights