Speech by Ruth Evans, Chair of the Payments Strategy Forum, at the Payments Strategy Forum Payments Community Event on 17 September 2015 in London.

This is the text of the speech as drafted and may differ from the delivered version.

Good morning everyone. As you have just heard, my name is Ruth Evans and I’m new the new Chair of the Payments Strategy Forum.

I am independent of the payments industry, but appointed by and accountable to the PSR.

I have a background in representing the public and consumer interest in a wide range of organisations and industries, including Financial Services; on commercial boards, regulatory authorities, charities and non-departmental bodies such as the National Consumer Council.

However, with my new role on the Forum, I will not only champion the needs of consumers, but also the broader range of businesses, corporates and other organisations that use payment systems – by ensuring their voice is heard at the Forum.

My role on the Forum

Although I’m meeting you for the first time today, behind the scenes I’ve already been working closely with the PSR, helping them to appoint the Forum’s members.

This was a really unique process and one of the bigger challenges I’ve faced at the beginning of a role.

 I know that some of you in the room will be disappointed that you haven’t been selected. I want to assure you that as we take the Forum forward, there will be plenty of opportunity for you to have a direct input into discussions, whether you’re at the table or not – I’ll say more about how we will achieve this in a moment.

Chairing the Forum

Once the Forum begins to meet in October my role will be very much focussed on guiding the discussions in order to reach consensus between its members, and helping it to get over any barriers.

No doubt, given the diversity of the Forum’s membership and the range of issues to discuss, this will be a challenge – but it is one which I am determined to face head-on.

That’s because there is a huge prize at the end of the day, if we can get this right. By developing a strategy that builds on the UK’s already-excellent payment systems, we can guarantee that the UK will continue to have payment systems that are the envy of the world.

How will the Forum work?

The Forum will meet up to six times per year supported by working groups, where necessary, to undertake further detailed work as required.

The Forum itself, for those of you who don’t yet know, will bring together 22 individual experts; broadly representing both the ‘supply’ and ‘demand’ sides of the industry.

The Forum’s work will be supported by a number of working groups, which will look at possible solutions and carry out rigorous cost benefit analysis for any strategic initiatives the Forum identifies.

The PSR will provide a secretariat to support the Forum’s work and will be actively engaging in its discussions.

We’ll also have the support of other regulators in this space – the Bank of England and the FCA, who will join us in meetings.

The role of the Operators

Obviously, the Forum won’t be able to develop strategy without the close engagement of the organisations who develop and keep the payment systems running – the Payment System Operators - such as Faster Payments, Bacs, Visa and MasterCard.

At the same time, it’s important to note that the Forum’s focus is on high level strategic considerations, rather than detailed technical discussions.

That’s why the PSR and I have been thinking carefully about how the operators can work with the Forum – and we’re continuing to work with them to find a solution that will ensure the best outcome.

Payments Community

Now, to say something about the role of all of you here in the room.

As Hannah has mentioned, the Forum’s role is to lead an ongoing process to identify, prioritise and develop strategic initiatives where industry must work together to promote innovation for the benefit of service-users.

To do this, it will need the input of a much broader set of stakeholders than the 23 sat round the table.

To be a success the Forum needs to proactively engage with the broad and diverse range of service-users and put their views at the beginning of the strategy setting process.

Both the Forum and its working groups are part of a wider group we are calling the ‘Payments Community’. This is a mechanism through which any stakeholders with relevant insight and expertise can help shape the Forum’s work.

So if you aren’t on the Forum itself, or if you don’t participate in its working groups, I don’t want you to feel you aren’t a part of the strategy-setting process.

The strategy, which we will arrive at in 12 months, will be a joint-effort between the Forum and the wider Payments Community.

I hope that you will be part of this endeavour by offering your insight or expertise to the working groups, responding to consultations, providing commentary on working papers and, of course, contributing today.

Four tenets of engagement

I’m really keen that the engagement between the payments community and the Forum gets off to the right start, so I’d just like to outline some principles by which I hope we can work together.

First: Putting users first.  Giving a meaningful voice to the many different users of payments systems at the beginning of the strategy setting process will be a fundamental aim of the Forum. 

Second: Listening. The Forum will take comments and views from all quarters into account. Our work will be based on genuine and active engagement with all interested stakeholders.

The third principle is Transparency: having an honest conversation based on sharing information in a timely way. The Forum’s output will be published regularly to enable interested parties to contribute and comment on the direction it is taking. 

And finally, having the right pace. Timely communications will be part of driving the Forum’s work programme in a pragmatic way, not too fast and not too slow. We will make sure the Payments Community is always able to access the outputs of the Forum as and when they are delivered.

These principles will form the basis for our event today, as we begin to fully integrate them into our work.

I hope that it will set the tone for how the Payments Community and the Forum will collaborate and engage – openly and honestly.

Where do I see the Forum in 12 months?

Based on the work I hope we can all do together, the aim is for the Forum to act as a focal point where strategy can really be driven forwards.

As the PSR has already set out in its policy statement, the expectation is for the Forum to have an initial strategy developed within 12 months. We have our work cut-out but I am very determined that we have a unique opportunity to make a difference in this space.

Today’s event

Today is an interactive day and I encourage you all to engage constructively and be open in your views and let us know what you think the Forum should be considering in its strategic work.

I’ll now hand over to Dora who will say some final words about the logistics of the day.