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Payments Networks Look to Establish Global Interoperability

Leaders from the world's leading payment networks are taking the first steps in establishing global standards and interoperability between Online Banking Enabled e-Payments (OBeP) schemes.

Representatives from OBeP schemes iDEAL (Netherlands), giropay (Germany), VocaLink (U.K.), NACHA (U.S.) 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.

OBeP schemes are defined as those that 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, according to the ICPNO. The organization's goal with this initiative is to link all participating schemes so that a consumer in Country A using online banking can make a purchase from an online merchant in Country B more seamlessly.

According to Jan Estep, president and CEO of NACHA, the ACH organization hopes to take a leading role in the initiative. "NACHA is supportive of industry initiatives like ICPNO which seek to leverage existing electronic payment functionality that provide benefit to all stakeholders," said Estep in a statement. "We hope to provide guidance to ICPNO on ways in which the U.S. ACH network is currently utilized to provide value to our financial institution members." At this stage, the group is working to define the interoperability requirements of the schemes. The ICPNO will be meeting regularly to continue to develop the standards for global scheme interoperability by considering key issues such as technology, international settlement, legal compliance, security, communications, fee structure and exchange rate mechanisms. 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.

"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," said Richard Brierley-Jones of the ICPNO, in a release.

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