Protecting the payments market: EPA plans to tackle Brexit head on with new scheme

By Kevin McAdam, prepaid director at allpay Limited

For nearly twenty years the EU has successfully launched initiatives aimed at integrating EU financial markets. It has facilitated the removal of legal barriers which hindered cross-border financial services activity across Europe. The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) regards the EU as a springboard for trade with the rest of the world through its global reputation, accounting for 23% of the global economy in 2012 and granting British firms accessibility to a $24 trillion market.

Undoubtedly, Britain’s role within the EU offered a sense of financial stability, with ‘Vote Remain’ utilizing public trust in the union’s economic decisions and cross-nation partnerships to drive its campaign. But now the future is uncertain. The Brexit vote has understandably raised concerns over its implications on the UK payments market. In response, the Emerging Payments Association (EPA), under the leadership project, has established a global trade initiative, which I am proud to be leading.

The EPA Trade Initiative aims to highlight the strength of the UK payments market to the rest of the world, keeping its reputation for leading edge products and solutions, which has made the UK the hot bed for payments innovation, intact. There are three key work streams which will drive the strategic objective for the EPA. The first is awareness and education, as we plan to position the EPA membership as the focal point of the Payments Industry with global operators beyond the Euro zone. We will be creating a program of local and national events, as well as implementing a strong marketing and communications plan. Through these methods we will offer expertise, innovation and education from product to regulation. This platform of knowledge sharing will facilitate better communication and realisation of business opportunities.

We will also be actively networking and cross-border working with industry associations and public bodies to establish relationships, with the aim of entering into a working partnership framework. Such partnerships will further support the payments industry cross border. Our third work stream will identify commercial and technology exporting opportunities for emerging markets outside the Euro zone. Our key objective is to open up trade corridors between the UK payments industry and emerging markets, initially LatAm and Asia Pacific. The initial phase will target Mexico, Serbia and China specifically. Fundamentally, this initiative will serve as a dynamic platform for continued global interaction for EPA and the membership.

We are already proactively reaching out to countries, pitching the UK as the global hub for payments innovation and reinforcing the idea that trade can remain strong post Brexit. We want to highlight how the EPA can help these countries moving forward, and that the Trade Initiative will create new, and strengthen existing, global relationships within the payments industry.

Dialogue has started with financial institutions within Serbia under the EPA banner and we have also had interest from the Hong Kong Development Corporation on how the EPA can support, advise and trade within Hong Kong to meet their desire to become a centre for FINTEC. Once again this is also working with UK trade associations.

The EPA board and its members will this month be joining 20 other country representatives in China. The trip, called China Start, involves visiting China’s leading business school and incubator network, learning about best practice for business in China and pitching our services to companies there. A new company called ZymPay and a leading Bloomberg analyst of the Chinese tech scene will also be in attendance. EPA members will have opportunity to sit at the top table, win business opportunities and secure funding for their PayTech ventures. allpay has already had some success in this market, having entered into a trade relationship with Lakala Group, one of the largest internet financial services groups in China. A key aim of this partnership is to build communication, co-operation and trust between the UK and China internet industries.

In all, networking with other countries has so far proved promising. In June 2016 we hosted a delegation of five from Mexico, looking at world class e-money regulations, technology and business models. In August 2016, three government officials met with a line-up of EPA members. This initiative has been fully supported by the UKTI and British Embassy. Those from Mexico are seeking companies to help pilot and roll-out a mobile and prepaid card programme for benefits distribution to seven million Mexican people. This was not exclusive to myself and the senior team at EPA, but any financial industry figures and EPA members.

Be assured that, post Brexit, steps are being taken to ensure that the UK payments industry and its reputation continues to flourish. Partnerships are forming, while existing trade relationships are being strengthened and maintained. One of the UK’s greatest assets is that it has always demonstrated a desire to explore, innovate and collaborate with the rest of the world. The EPA membership will use its wealth of knowledge and expertise to continue in this spirit, developing and supporting initiatives across the globe.


Emerging Payments Association (EPA)

The EPA is a community comprising the UK’s most progressive and collaborative payments companies. The EPA helps them influence the payments landscape and collaborate with those operating in it, whether they are buyers, sellers or partners. Operating since 2004, the EPA now has over 100 member companies, has the support of UK government agencies, and regularly communicates with regulatory bodies to help advance payments innovation. The EPA is led by an independent Advisory Board and has the support of Benefactors such as MasterCard, The Bancorp, Just Loans Group and SVS.