Making it easier to pay without cash

We need your opinion on how to give EU shoppers a better choice of cash-free payment methods, especially online – by spurring competition in the electronic payments market.

When you buy something from another EU country, you shouldn’t be charged more for using your preferred method of payment than you would be at home.

Bank cards and smartphones offer quick, convenient ways to buy products and services, especially on the Internet. But a lack of competition in the EU translates into inefficient electronic-payment systems, high costs and limited choices for buyers and sellers.

The Commission is looking at ways to spur competition and spark innovation.

As a first step, the EU is seeking the public’s views on achieving these goals. A discussion paper outlines some of the issues, and possible ways of addressing them:

  • competition – improving market access for existing payment providers and making it easier for new companies to enter the market
  • security and data protection – encouraging people to use alternatives to cash by making them more secure
  • clear information on charges – protecting consumers from hidden charges and keeping prices down by helping them compare like with like
  • systems that work throughout Europe – introducing common technical standards for greater compatibility. Currently national differences mean that bank cards often can’t be used outside the country of issue, for example.

Our online consultation is open until 11 April 2012. The comments we receive will inform decisions on the next steps to be taken, expected to be announced before July.

Any proposals arising out of the consultation would complement common pan-European standards already developed for credit and direct debit transfers.

Encouraging e-commerce

They would also support EU measures to boost online trade (e commerce), such as the 16 recent proposals to encourage e commerce.

Protecting consumers online

Enforcing EU rules for online trading is essential to protect shoppers and build consumer trust. The EU has been conducting regular investigations into websites offering consumers products or services.

The latest is a sweep of about 500 consumer credit websites. Of these, 70% were found to breach EU consumer protection rules. The companies behind them will be asked to correct their websites – and could face legal action if they do not comply. Source: PR & Pic © European Commission



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