BIS: Building regional payment areas: the Single Rule Book approach

BIS, CPMI Working Papers No 1016
by Douglas Arner, Ross Buckley, Thomas Lammer, Dirk Zetzsche and Sangita Gazi

In October 2020, the G20 endorsed a significant initiative to enhance cross-border payments. Faster, cheaper, more transparent, and more inclusive cross-border payment services will deliver widespread benefits for citizens and economies worldwide, supporting economic growth, international trade, global development, and financial inclusion. Enhancing cross-border payments requires more than mere adoption of technical standards. The best outcome involves aligned technological, regulatory, and legal frameworks. This paper analyzes such payment integration projects.

Each border adds to the costs of a cross-border payment if crossing the border means entering into a different technological, regulatory and legal environment, with different systems, regulators, and courts. Under ideal circumstances, cross-border payments will be processed as seamlessly as comparable domestic payments, even where various currencies are processed. While this highly ambitious target is unlikely to be achieved globally in the short to medium term, regionally, the gap between cross-border and domestic payments has already been narrowed. At the global level, mismatches between the inter-institutional framework on the back-end and the contractual relationship with clients on the front-end represent potential costs for the payment services provider and increase legal risk, prompting costly legal, due diligence manual adjustments in payments processes. A high degree of cross-border harmonization via rulebooks along the technological, regulatory, and legal dimensions has been instrumental for successful regional integration projects and has promoted straight-through-processing. Potentially costly events such as rejects, returns, and revocations of payment orders have been reduced, sanction screening and financial crime compliance processes agreed.

Drawing on this insight, this paper suggests globally coordinated action to develop a comprehensive framework to guide and support regional payment integration. This we call a “Single Rule Book.” Such a Single Rule Book could be instrumental in enhancing safety, efficiency, and integrity in cross-border payments. We explore its potential contents, and importantly, the minimum standards it would impose.

The full paper is available at https://www.bis.org/publ/work1016.htm

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