Portugal: A Renewed National Strategy to Add Efficiency and Modernisation to Retail Payment Services

Posted on Nov 22, 2023 by Rui Pimentel, Senior Advisor, Payment Systems Department, Banco de Portugal

The evolutions registered in the retail payments ecosystem, in general terms, have continuously fostered the need for adaptations and the introduction of innovative services in the market over recent years. This trend has also affected the approach taken by regulators and policymakers, in Europe and other jurisdictions, often having to focus on specific circumstances and evolving habits at a national level that make each country a unique case, despite deeper integration resulting from harmonisation taken on several areas.

In this regard, the working model that has been predominantly followed in the Portuguese payments community has been that of a cooperative approach, involving a broad range of actors representing both the supply and demand sides when it comes to the provision of retail payment services. This is illustrated by the national Payment Systems Forum, a consultative body chaired by Banco de Portugal.

After being initially launched in 2009 to work primarily on the national migration process to the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA), and adoption of the associated pan-European payment instruments, following completion of this project the Forum went through a relaunch and repositioning moment that was completed in late 2018 with a new mandate and composition.

It was then possible to work co-operatively on the design and development of the National Strategy for Retail Payments | Horizon 2022 (Strategy-22),[1] the first time such an initiative was taken by the Portuguese community. Published in 2020,[2] the implementation of the Strategy-22 proved a success, a result of common efforts by Forum members and under the guidance of Banco de Portugal, despite the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic affected most of its adoption period. In some aspects, ad hoc adjustments were required, e.g., raising the contactless per transaction threshold without PIN while the measures had been prepared before the world went through that scenario.

Following the implementation of the Strategy-22, it became clear that new issues continued to be relevant and needed to be tackled, while bringing new challenges to the European retail payments landscape where, again, Portugal was no exception. In addition, the national payments community agreed that there were a number of topics contributing to the need to build on the goals achieved with the Strategy-22 and to pursue new aims in order to foster the implementation of safe, efficient and innovative payment solutions in the Portuguese market — i.e., the main goal of the Forum’s mission — paving the way to consider a renewed Strategy.

In particular, the following factors highlighted ...

[1] In Portuguese only

[2] Presented in the December 2020 edition of CBPN in the Spotlight section

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