Welcome and thank you all for attending today’s event. The fact that we have our largest attendance to date recognises the ever-increasing importance of payments to domestic and global growth and the pace of change we are currently seeing.

At a recent speech with leaders across the payments ecosystem, Chris talked about the fact that, in the UK, we are still on a journey to moving to a model where we can readily support innovation, being able to quickly deploy new technology and adapt rules for the benefit of stakeholders overall, even if it acts against the interest of some participants.

It is imperative that our payment systems continue to modernise and change at pace, and that the markets that they support continue to develop, promote competition, and drive innovation if the UK is to remain as a recognised World class leader in payments.

This is important for consumers, businesses, financial institutions, FinTechs and the wider economy – all of us across the payments ecosystem. Progress in the UK payments systems requires a mix of competition, collaboration and clear decision-making, underpinned by effective economic regulation.

Today is an important opportunity to discuss the PSR’s priorities for this year. At the halfway point of our 5-year strategy, this is not only a year of strong delivery for the PSR with your support but also a chance to reflect on the horizon with continued developments in technology - AI, big-tech, digital pound, distributed ledger technology to name a few - and increasing global interoperability. How we address these issues will be a key focus of our mid-year strategy review.

Over the last year, we have been developing our capabilities building our teams – including new executives and non-executives – and have recruited to ensure we have the people and resources we need to deliver and meet our objectives of supporting competition, protecting end users and promoting critical innovations at pace.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Chris, the wider PSR team and the PSR Board, many of whom you will have the opportunity to meet today, for their continued hard work and dedication to achieving these outcomes for UK payments.

Inflight projects will have a huge impact on UK payment systems – including major changes to help address fraud and build user confidence. After all, without consumer trust, we will not see the sustainable innovation we all want to see. Chris will say more about those projects shortly.

The necessity of collaboration to enable success in policy delivery is growing whether this is in respect of fraud – which requires action across sector boundaries, and with government and the private sector. We continue to working together to deliver an end-to-end approach. Another focus for collaboration is meeting the challenges and opportunities presented by new technology. As recently announced, we are working closely with the FCA to improve our understanding of the issues raised by the growth in digital wallets.

And indeed, many of us are engaging with HMT on the National Payments Vision to help shape the future of UK payments.
Of course we cannot do this without all of you - ongoing engagement and dialogue with you all is crucial. As an independent regulator we will not always agree with everything we hear – that is entirely normal - particularly so where we want to see changes which are critical to improve outcomes.

But we do listen and value an open and constructive dialogue – and want to see even more of that as we continue to develop our approach to engagement. This annual event is a key opportunity for us all to engage, and I hope you enjoy the sessions.

Through working together and delivering on our commitments, we can help ensure that the UK payments system is well positioned to deliver now – and into the future.