Hello everyone,

To echo Aidene, it really is excellent to see so many of you here in person this morning and thank you to those joining online. These events are a great opportunity for us to come together, discuss priorities, understand the challenges and opportunities, outline our plan for the year ahead and talk about what’s happening on the payments horizon.

Payments are a vital part of all our lives and last year, people in the UK made around 46 billion payments worth over £109 trillion. Those payments, and the systems that enable money to move from A to B, are essential parts of our daily lives. We rely on them as individuals, and in how they support businesses, government and the economy.
So it’s important that they work well.

While UK payments work well in many respects, as Aidene has already noted, there is still more to do – to support competition and innovation – and to protect consumers.

We’re at a key point in our five-year Strategy. We have now put in place the building blocks. So this year is about delivering on our significant ambition for changes which improve payment outcomes – that is, improve things that matter to people and businesses.

Addressing the harm caused by authorised push payment (APP) fraud is a critical focus. And rightly so – this can have devastating impacts on people. But it also undermines trust in the whole payments ecosystem.

Our requirements have been set out. And we are fully focussed on their delivery and implementation on 7 October. Leading to a step change in consumer protection. And a step-change in the incentives to prevent fraud from happening in the first place.

It's an ambitious programme and there have been strong views about it. This debate had helped us refine and improve our propsoals.
But already, we can see that these incentives are increasing the focus on fraud prevention, as controls are improved, and new technology is deployed to tackle the problem. And we all want to see the outcome of better protected consumers. So, we’ll continue to closely engage with you all in the coming months to get these world-leading changes in place – supporting you along the way.

In the year ahead we will also continue our work to improve competition in payments. In particular, we will drive changes that unlock greater use of open banking for payments.

While we are seeing encouraging growth in the use of account-to-account payments, this is an area that has even greater potential – not just as one that offers users more choice and control of how to pay, but one that can – in time – provide greater choice and competition in retail payments.

And we’re also continuing to tackle areas where we have concerns today about how effectively competition is working. We will continue our monitoring of the improvements we put in place to make it easier for businesses to shop around for card acquiring services. Our work to progress our two market reviews on card fees both have important upcoming milestones.

Taken together, these projects represent a significant push to support effective competition – given the potential for competition to deliver innovative, value-adding products and services to businesses and people.

In recent years we have also been increasing our focus on the future – we need to keep a close eye on developments in what is a fast moving sector.

It’s absolutely essential, as Aidene mentioned, that we monitor developments in payments, engaging broadly with the ecosystem as we do so. This helps us understand the likely impacts of new technology and business models on our work.
In January 2022 we set out our five-year strategy. Providing much needed clarity about our view on the challenges and opportunities in payments, and set out our strategic priorities for action to address them.

At that time we committed to reviewing this Strategy at the half-way point, to ensure our priorities remain the right ones, or whether we need to adapt and flex them. This will be an additional focus for the year ahead. Dan will say more about that shortly.
So yes, this is a significant year, and not just for the delivery of our strategic priorities, but for the benefits they will bring.

This morning is an important opportunity to discuss what’s coming up, to hear your views and discuss your questions. And this year, we’ve made the sessions more discussion focused, following your feedback from previous events. Because we want to hear from you.

Your input, ideas and challenge helps us to tackle this important agenda, and improve outcomes for people and businesses.

So, thank you again for joining us. I’m really delighted to say that we’ll start our first session. I’d like to welcome the rest of my Executive team to the stage.