Nordic banks explore common payment infrastructure


A group of major Swedish, Danish, Norwegian and Finnish banks is exploring the possibility of setting up a pan-Nordic payment infrastructure, supplemented by common products, which it says will be accessible by all.

The domestic and cross-border payment backbone would be available in multiple currencies (SEK, DKK, NOK and EUR) and use common European standards, says a Nordea press release, presumably referring to ISO20022 messaging and so forth.

A call to enquire about any instant payment functionality, irrevocability, interoperability with the EU SCT Inst scheme and other parameters went unanswered at the time of publication, but these discussions are perhaps part of the discussions currently going on between Danske Bank, DNB, Handelsbanken, Nordea, OP Financial Group, SEB and Swedbank. InstaPay will be monitoring this story and following it up.

It is not clear yet either in these early days of the mooted project if any future interoperability with nearby Baltic countries such as Latvia or Estonia will be possible, but it is understood the initiative has major support from Norway and Sweden where current domestic infrastructure projects are underway that share similar objectives that could perhaps now be achieved on a pan-Nordic scale. The InstaPay Tracker has data about various countries’ adoption of instant payments.

The intention is to replace the present fragmented national payment infrastructures with a harmonised, interoperable system that can support products offered on a cross-border basis, fostering deeper trade links between the Nordic countries and thereby stimulating growth and employment.

The open access model is no doubt designed to encourage competition among payment service providers (PSPs) in the region and align with regulation and trends such as the second EU Payment Services Directive (PSD2) and its support for open application programming interfaces (APIs) and competition.

Besides increased integration, “a harmonised Nordic payment infrastructure will create a better foundation for innovation and encourage the development of new products and services to the benefit of all end-users”, says the statement. It adds, “this will in turn enable the Nordics to maintain their position as some of the world’s most digital societies. It will also be in line with present-day requirements for payment infrastructures as financial utilities, where scale, security, speed and efficiency have become key”.