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Can Africa Learn Lessons from SEPA

It's very interesting to see that Southern Africa plans a SEPA-style payments harmonisation and that they consider that learning from the experience in Europe could be very useful. Something that immediately springs to mind is to treat self-regulation with caution. In Europe, we are now actively seeking regulatory intervention to set an end date for the withdrawal of the legacy payment instruments as the SEPA initiative feels as though it is stalled without that. Self-regulation simply did not deliver.

On a different but related point, I have just emerged from a Sibos session on 'Rebuilding Trust', and the issue of self-regulation came up in that discussion, with one panellist declaring that, in the context of recovery from the financial crisis, "self-regulation is over". The concept of self-regulation just doesn't have many fans at the moment. And there are many calls for closer collaboration with the regulators. How things have changed.

But it may be a salutary lesson for Southern Africa. The regulators should ensure that the appropriate framework is in place. Then the banks can concentrate on ensuring that they act in the interests of their clients as they deliver harmonisation, rather than merely reacting to a political impetus. There can be huge value in such initiatives - the trick is in delivering it.

Paul Styles

Solutions Consultant

ACI Worldwide