Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England, announced Friday that the U.K. central bank will expand direct access to its settlement system to non-bank payment providers.
“By increasing the proportion of settlement in central bank money, diversifying the number of settlement firms, and driving greater innovation in risk-reducing payments technologies, expanding access should bring financial stability benefits,” Carney said in the prepared text for a speech. “It should also enable more efficient, effective and inclusive payments, including in ways that we cannot fully anticipate.”
At the same time, Carney said that the Bank of England will also safeguard the system by: imposing appropriate standards on participating firms; removing legislative barriers to non-bank access; and designing the account arrangements for new entrants.
Additionally, the regulatory agencies that supervise these institutions, “are committed to developing a strengthened supervisory regime for those who apply for [a central bank] settlement account, to give assurance that non-banks can safely take their place at the heart of the payment system,” he added.
The U.K. authorities aim to hold a consultation on these plans later this year, running from September to November. They aim to publish a blueprint for the future settlement system in early 2017.
In response to the announcement, Hannah Nixon, managing director of the U.K. Payment Systems Regulator (PSR), said, “Today’s announcement marks a significant milestone in the drive to create open access for non-banking organizations.”
“It’s one piece of the puzzle, but it’s an important one. If you can open settlement access, organizations will have greater choice in access to payments systems. The wider ripple effect is that with greater access, more companies may innovate and both consumers and businesses will have a greater choice of payment services available to them,” she added.
In the same speech, Carney also announced that the Bank of England has launched a fintech accelerator, which will work with tech firms to “help us harness fintech innovations for central banking.”
The Bank of England has already carried out initial work in the areas such as data anonymization, cybersecurity and distributed ledger technology. Other areas of potential future interest include new ways to structure and analyze large datasets, machine learning, and data protection.