Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, France, and Belgium have deficits.
For political reasons, if Italy or Greece decide to leave the EMU, then they are supposed to settle their debts. But they can not do that. Other countries in EMU will have to bear the burden of unpaid debts of leaving countries.
There are many lessens for other regions around the world who are contemplating monetary unions. AMU in ASEAN region is one such example. They should carefully learn from experiences of EMU as how not to do things.
From Money & Credit: Eurozone TARGET2
From Germany TARGET2 – Balance
TARGET2 is a payment system that enables the speedy and final settlement of national and cross-border payments in central bank money. An average of around 350,000 payments with a value of just under €2½ trillion are processed using TARGET2 each working day, a figure which is broadly equivalent to the size of Germany’s GDP. During a whole year, TARGET2 settles about 90 million payments with a value of about € 600,000 billion. These payment transactions can take a wide variety of forms, such as payment for a goods delivery, the purchase or sale of a security, the granting or repayment of a loan or the depositing of funds at a bank, among many others.
In addition to payments between credit institutions and from other systems (eg securities settlement systems), payments undertaken as part of the Eurosystem’s open market operations are settled via TARGET2.
If, for example, foreign funds are transferred to a bank that participates in TARGET2 via the Bundesbank, this results in a liability of the Bundesbank to this bank (such as in the form of a credit to this amount on the bank‘s current account). In return, the transaction generates a Bundesbank claim for the same sum on the sending central bank. This central bank then in turn debits the account of the originating commercial bank. This requires the originating commercial bank to have a sufficient credit balance in central bank money. Central bank credit balances are primarily provided by the Eurosystem’s monetary policy refinancing operations.
The resulting claims and liabilities generated at the national central banks by the multiple transactions over the course of a day normally do not fully balance out. Under the terms of a Eurosystem agreement, the outstanding claims and liabilities of all the national central banks participating inTARGET2 are transferred to the ECB at the end of the business day, where they are netted out. The resulting TARGET2 (net) balances hence arise from the cross-border distribution of central bank money within the Eurosystem’s decentralized structure.
The TARGET2 balance in the Bundesbank’s balance sheet is therefore mainly attributable to cross-border transactions which involve banks that participate in TARGET2 via the Bundesbank (several banks from other EU countries participate in TARGET2 via the Bundesbank in cases where their own national central banks do not participate in TARGET2). On the one hand, it is affected by credit institutions’ operations on the money and capital markets and, on the other, by transactions carried out by the non-banking sector, which generates payments via the banking system.
From TARGET2 balances
From Interpreting TARGET2 balances
The existence of a substantial German claim on the Eurosystem is well known. As shown in Graph 1, since the beginning of the financial crisis in August 2007, claims of the Deutsche Bundesbank on the Eurosystem through the TARGET2 system have gone from basically zero to more than €700 billion.1 This has led to a debate over what this accumulation means and what, if anything, should be done about it.
Interpretations of this and other TARGET2 balances fall into two camps. The first, judged a minority view by Auer (2012), is that these balances correspond to current account financing. We label this the flow interpretation. Proponents have included most prominently Sinn and Wollmershäuser (2012), whose views originally appeared as a working paper a year ago (Sinn and Wollmershäuser (2011)).2 Fahrholz and Freytag (2012) take the view that the current account imbalance will create persistent TARGET2 balances.
The second camp, including Buiter et al (2011), Mody and Bornhorst (2012), Bindseil and König (2012), and3 Cecioni and Ferrero (2012) interprets TARGET2 balances as a “capital account reversal”. That is, they see this as one symptom of a balance of payments crisis. Bindseil and König (2012) argue that the Eurosystem full allotment refinancing operations should be seen as financing the reversal of an outstanding stock of cross-border claims while the TARGET2 payments system merely records the results. We label this the stock interpretation, and trace it originally to Garber (1999).
The members of the European Economic Advisory Group (2012) take an intermediate position. They read Sinn and Wollmershäuser (2011) as arguing that Greece and Portugal financed their current account deficits in 2008 to 2010 through TARGET2, while Ireland’s TARGET2 balance was associated with a capital outflow and Spain’s TARGET2 balance financed only a quarter of its cumulated current account. Italy is identified as a case of “capital flight” in late 2011. More formally, Auer (2012) uses panel regressions to find that the TARGET2 balances track both current accounts and bank flows from Q3 2007 to Q1 2012.
Our work is most closely related to that of Auer (2012).4 Like him, we juxtapose TARGET2 balances with both current account and capital flow data, using BIS banking data. The new element in our work is that we distinguish between capital flows motivated by concerns over creditworthiness and those motivated by the low probability of redenomination.
Evolving Networks of Regional RTGS Payment and Settlement Systems
Globalization has created incentives for nations to form regional economic unions to take advantage of scale and resource pooling.
There are a lot of efforts underway to develop and implement regional RTGS between central banks. There are several models for integration.
Many States, Many Currencies – Hong Kong SAR
Many States, Single Currency – EU uses EURO and Central America uses USD, SADC uses South African RAND
RTGS systems designed to facilitate such economic integration.
RTGS – RTGS – Interlink model – Hong Kong, ASEAN 5
RTGS-RTGS – SSP Single Shared Platform model – EU
From Payment System Interoperability and Oversight: The International Dimension
Several factors may prompt the international interlinking of PSIs. In most cases, linking national PSIs to achieve international interoperability of certain payment services comes from a country’s decisions to exploit the benefits of international economic and financial integration (i.e., greater international trade and investment activities, attraction of foreign investment capital, risk diversification, and deepening and broadening domestic financial and capital markets), since integration requires economic units to have convenient access to cross-border payment service facilities. A powerful driver to regional PSI interlinking is constituted by the political agreements among countries in a region on a broad, long-term economic and financial development cooperative program. Usually, in this case, the efforts to link payment system (as well as other financial market) infrastructures are supported actively by a core group of countries in organized regional development policy and planning forums.5 In some cases, interlinking may result from decisions by national financial authorities to address the demand from market participants (and/or their customers, including asset managers, other securities servicers, and other types of businesses) for cross-border access to international markets at lower end-to-end transaction costs.
Cross-border transactions can be made possible by establishing bilateral links between national PSIs.8 Perhaps the simplest form of PSI interlinking is achieved when two central banks agree on a scheme to support or facilitate cross-border transactions. This likely requires linking the large-value transfer systems of the countries involved by developing technical interfaces between them. Some other solutions are possible which link national payment systems through central bank bilateral accounts, whereby participating central banks hold settlement accounts either with one another or with a common commercial bank.
More advanced solutions for PSI interlinking are characterized by the adoption of a unified scheme and a common technical-operational facility to process the transactions defined under the scheme. The common (regional or global) technical-operational facility follows one of two basic architectures: the decentralized model, or the single or fully centralized model. Arrangements adopting a decentralized model for regional, cross-regional and/or global payments link existing national settlement systems (Figure 1). These normally feature different degrees of sophistication and complexity. Most decentralized regional payment systems are designed in a “hub-spoke” structure, in which there is a central administrative and technical-operational facility referred to as the “hub entity”, which links the participating systems.9 The interlinking mechanism is usually a standardized messaging and connectivity technology, which links account management and the various national operating systems together, while participants access the hub entity through the national settlement infrastructure of their jurisdiction.
In the centralized platform model, the national payment system infrastructures are replaced by a single international system (Figure 2). In this case, it is more appropriate to talk about international payment system integration. Participants access the system directly through the relevant telecommunications network or indirectly through any direct participant in the system. Centralized platforms are mostly identified with international integration projects, most notably regional, which have evolved into monetary unions with the use of a regional currency. They minimize or even eliminate the distinction between cross-border and domestic payments, and allow for processing both types of transactions in the same system seamlessly.
Various examples illustrate the different technical modalities of interlinking discussed above. One example of bilateral links between national payment systems is the linking of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority’s U.S. dollar real-time gross settlement (RTGS) system with the RTGS systems of other central banks in the region, specifically Bank Negara Malaysia’s RENTAS and Bank Indonesia’s BI-RTGS. These systems operate on a common operating platform. Their links, which are independent from each other, allow payment-versus-payment settlement between the national currencies of those countries and the U.S. dollar. Other illustrative examples are the East African Payments System (EAPS), which shows the case of national payment systems linked through the holding of bilateral accounts among central banks, and the Sistema de Pagos en Moneda Local involving the national RTGS systems of Argentina and Brazil, which is an example of the national payment systems linked through their respective central banks which hold settlement accounts with a common commercial bank. Currently, two SML systems are operational: one linking the RTGS systems of Argentina and Brazil, and other linking the RTGS systems of Brazil and Uruguay.
Other cases exemplify the decentralized and centralized models of international payment system integration. Schemes with a decentralized settlement system involving multiple parties have been developed in regions where there is a regional currency, as well as for settling cross-border payments denominated in a single foreign currency. The most well-known example of a unified scheme with a decentralized settlement system for a regional currency was the original TARGET in Europe, which linked the Euro RTGS systems of EU national central banks. Another example is the Sistema de Interconexión de Pagos in Central America and the Dominican Republic, which uses a decentralized architecture for settling cross-border payments in U.S. dollars.11
With regard to the centralized model of PSI interlinking (or integration), relevant examples are TARGET2 and EURO1 supporting euro denominated payments in the European Union,12 the STAR-UEMOA for the West African CFA Franc throughout the West African Economic and Monetary Union, and the RTGS system of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) for the EC dollar in the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union. Over the past decade, centralized payment system infrastructures have also been developed regionally, where no regional currency existed, to facilitate settlement of domestic, regional, and cross-regional payments in more than one settlement currency (e.g., RAPID in the United Arab Emirates, and CHATS in Hong Kong). Finally, an example of a unified global system for settlements denominated in multiple currencies is CLS Bank International, which links the national RTGS systems of the participating jurisdictions/currencies, with a strong reliance on the legal agreement of the rulebook and the technical standards.
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) regional payment integration project in the Southern African region captures aspects of a centralized model. The project develops on the International Payments Framework (IPF) concept to construct a regional payment infrastructure composed of a regional automated clearing house (ACH) and settlement system.14 The current architecture consists of the SADC Integrated Regional Electronic Settlement System (SIRESS), an electronic central system that facilitates cross border trade in the SADC region. SIRESS, and excludes domestic inter-bank payments and settlements. It allows participating banks to settle regional transactions denominated in South African Rand (ZAR) within SADC countries, on an RTGS basis. The system is operated by the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) on behalf of the SADC Committee of Central Bank Governors, with SARB also acting as the ZAR settlement bank. It is a safe and efficient payment/settlement system which reduces the cost to banks since there is no correspondent bank (intermediary) involved.15 The project should eventually evolve into a single regional payment settlement infrastructure, in tandem with the planned monetary union.
The prototypal regional systems for retail payments were multilateral arrangements governed by service agreements and operational protocols of limited standardization between participating banks in different countries. For example, TIPANET, which was designed as a cross-border retail payment service for credit transfers between cooperative banks in Europe and Canada, provided participating members with somewhat lower cost and faster payment delivery than the usual correspondent banking arrangements of that time.16 The widespread growth of credit and debit card payment schemes since the late 1980s provided a second wave of regional and crossregional PSI linkages and integration.
Some regional cross-border arrangements have developed across direct (horizontal) linkages between national schemes. This is the case of the arrangement linking the Interac debit card system in Canada, the NYCE Payments Network and PULSE systems in the United States, and Union Pay in China for access by the schemes’ cardholders to the cross-border debit and ATM networks. Global card payment schemes such as VISA and MasterCard provide cross-border interoperability in transaction systems for credit and debit payments and ATM cash withdrawals for cardholders and (vertical) integration of these systems with proprietary clearing and settlement systems. As global card payment schemes, they deal with domestic, regional, and cross-regional payments.17
Regional and cross-regional interlinking of national and funds transfer systems in general is a fairly recent development. Some, such as EBA Clearings’ STEP2 in Europe and SICA-UMEOA in the West African Monetary and Economic Union, are single regional schemes and systems for both domestic and cross-border payments among member countries using the euro and the CFA franc, respectively. Others are generally constructed through (horizontal) bilateral linkages between national ACHs. These linkages allow the ACH members in one country to transmit customer payments, typically via credit transfers, to end-receivers holding accounts with ACH members in other countries. The network architecture for regionally or cross-regionally linked payment clearing infrastructure and for single regional ACHs can be either a hub-spoke arrangement with a central hub connection, a centralized network structure, or a distributed bilateral network structure, which contemplates the operation of large providers of payment clearing and processing services (Box 1). Another example, in Europe, is the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) scheme compliant clearing and settlement mechanisms (CSMs). Services offered by competing CSMs, based on the SEPA payment schemes, are governed by market forces and are outside the remit of the European Payments Council (EPC). The EU regulation provides that, within the EU, a PSP reachable for a national euro credit transfer or direct debit shall be reachable for euro credit transfers or direct debits initiated through a PSP located in any member state. Any PSP participating in any of the EPC SEPA Schemes (SEPA Credit Transfer, SEPA Direct Debit), under the relevant scheme adherence agreement with the EPC and the relevant EPC SEPA Scheme Rulebook, is permanently obligated to comply with reachability from its readiness date. Each PSP needs to determine how to achieve full reachability for the EPC SEPA Scheme(s) it has adhered to. There are several ways for PSPs to send and receive euro payment transactions to and from other PSPs across SEPA. PSPs can choose and use any solution or combination of solutions, directly or indirectly, as long as reachability and compliance with the EPC SEPA Schemes are effectively ensured.
Main Regions with Regional RTGS Systems
Hong Kong SAR
West Africa – WAMZ
East Africa – EAPS
South Africa (SADC) – SIRESS
ASEAN AEC – ASEAN 5 RTGS
Central America – USD based RTGS – SIP
Since the establishment of the European Economic Community in 1958 there has been a progressive movement towards a more integrated European financial market. This movement has been marked by several events. In the field of payments, the most visible were the launch of the euro in 1999 and the cash changeover in the euro area countries in 2002.
The establishment of the large-value central bank payment system TARGET was less visible, but also of great importance. It formed an integral part of the introduction of the euro and facilitated the rapid integration of the euro area money market.
A unique feature of TARGET2 is the fact that its payment services in euro are available across a geographical area which is larger than the euro area. National central banks which have not yet adopted the euro also have the option to participate in TARGET2 to facilitate the settlement of transactions in euro. When new Member States join the euro area the participation in TARGET2 becomes mandatory. The use of TARGET2 is mandatory for the settlement of any euro operations involving the Eurosystem.
As of February 2016, 25 central banks of the EU and their respective user communities are participating in, or connected to, TARGET2:
The 20 euro area central banks (including the ECB) and
five central banks from non-euro area countries: Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Poland and Romania.
Hong Kong RTGS System
Hong Kong’s financial infrastructure is designed to cater for cross-border as well as domestic economic activities. Links with payment systems and debt securities systems in other economies provide an easily accessible payment and settlement platform for cross-border economic transactions and financial intermediation.
Links with Guangdong (including Shenzhen) – Launched in phases since January 1998, these links cover cross-border RTGS payments in Hong Kong dollars and US dollars, and cheque clearing in Hong Kong dollars, US dollars and renminbi, with Guangdong Province including Shenzhen.1 The use of these links, which helps expedite payments and remittances between Hong Kong and Guangdong, has been rising gradually with the increasing economic integration between Hong Kong and the Mainland.
Cross-border payment arrangements with Mainland – Cross-border payment arrangements involving the Mainland’s Domestic Foreign Currency Payment System were established in March 2009 to facilitate foreign currency funding and liquidity management of Mainland banks and commercial payments. The cross-border payment arrangements currently cover four currencies – the Hong Kong dollar, US dollar, euro and British pound.
Link with Macau – The one-way joint clearing facility for Hong Kong dollar and US dollar cheques between Hong Kong and Macau was launched in August 2007 and June 2008 respectively, reducing the time required for clearing Hong Kong dollar and US dollar cheques drawn on banks in Hong Kong and presented in Macau from four or five days to two.
Link with Malaysia – A link between the Ringgit RTGS system in Malaysia (the RENTAS system) and the US dollar RTGS system in Hong Kong came into operation in November 2006. The link helps eliminate settlement risk by enabling PvP settlements of foreign exchange transactions in ringgit and US dollars during Malaysian and Hong Kong business hours. This is the first cross-border PvP link between two RTGS systems in the region.
Link with Indonesia – The PvP link between Hong Kong’s US dollar RTGS system and Indonesia’s Rupiah RTGS system was launched in January 2010. The link helps eliminate settlement risk by enabling PvP settlements of foreign exchange transactions in Rupiah and US dollars during Indonesian and Hong Kong business hours.
Link with the Continuous Linked Settlement (CLS) system – The CLS system, operated by CLS Bank International, is a global clearing and settlement system for cross-border foreign exchange transactions. It removes settlement risk in these transactions by settling them on a PvP basis. The Hong Kong dollar joined the CLS system in 2004.
Regional CHATS – This is an extension of the RTGS systems in Hong Kong in the regional context. Regional payments in Hong Kong dollars, US dollars, euros and renminbi can use the RTGS platform in Hong Kong to facilitate cross border/cross bank transfers in those currencies.
Link with Thailand
In 2014, Hong Kong started operating PvP link between HK’s US dollar RTGS system and Thailand’s BAHT RTGS system.
US FEDWIRE RTGS System
This is surprisingly subtle.
When, for instance, when bank A in the Richmond Federal Reserve district sends $1000 in reserves to bank B in the Minneapolis Federal Reserve district, reserves are taken out of bank A’s account at the Richmond Fed and placed into bank B’s account at the Minneapolis Fed.
Now, bank A’s reserves are a liability on the books of the Richmond Fed, while bank B’s reserves are a liability on the books of the Minneapolis Fed. Without any offsetting change, therefore, the process would result in the Richmond Fed discharging a liability and the Minneapolis Fed gaining a liability – and if this continued, regional Fed assets and liabilities could become highly mismatched.
The principle, then, is that there should be an offsetting swap of assets. It would be too complicated to swap actual assets every time there is a flow of reserves between banks in different districts. (There’s over $3 trillion in transactions every day on Fedwire, the Fed’s RTGS system – and if even a fraction of those are between different districts, the amounts are really enormous.) Instead, in the short run the regional Feds swap accounting entries in an “Interdistrict Settlement Account” (ISA). In the example above, the Minneapolis Fed’s ISA position would increase by $1000, while the Richmond Fed’s ISA position would decrease by $1000, to offset the transfer of liabilities.
So far, this is all very similar to the controversial TARGET2 system in the Euro area, in which large balances between national banks have recently been accumulating. The American system is different, however, because ISA entries are eventually settled via transfers of assets. Every April, the average ISA balance for each regional Fed over the past year is calculated, and this portion of the balance is settled via a transfer of assets in the System Open Market Account (the main pile of Fed assets, run by the New York Fed). Hence, if in April the Minneapolis Fed has an ISA balance of +$500, but over the past year it had an average balance of +$2000, its balance is decreased (by $2000) to -$1500, and it has an offsetting gain of $2000 in SOMA assets.
As this example shows, since it is average balances over the past year that are settled, not the current balances, ISA balances do not necessarily go to zero every April. Historically, they were fairly tiny anyway, but since QE brought dramatic increases in reserves, these balances have sometimes been large and irregular. In the long run, though, the system prevents any persistent imbalances from accumulating.
(Note: the process in April is a little bit more complicated than I describe, since some minor transfers of gold certificate holdings are also involved. Basically, gold certificates are transferred between regional Feds to maintain a constant ratio of gold certificates to federal reserve notes; the transfers of SOMA assets are adjusted to account for this. Wolman’s recent piece for the Richmond Fed is one of the few sources that describes the system in detail.)
EAC Payment and Settlement Systems Integration Project (EAC-PSSIP)
The East African Community Secretariat has received financing from the African Development Fund (ADF) toward the cost of the establishment of EAC Payment and Settlement Systems Integration Project (EAC- PSSIP) and intends to apply part of the agreed amount for this grant to payments under the contract for Audit Services for the EAC Payment and Settlement Systems Integration Project (EAC-PSSIP).
The EAC-PSSIP is an integral part of the EAC Financial Sector Development and Regionalisation Project’s (FSDRP) higher objective of broadening and deepening the financial sector and is aimed at complementing the integration of the regional financial market infrastructure to facilitate the undertaking of cross border funds transfer in support of the economies of the region as a whole. The project objective is to contribute to the modernization, harmonization and regional integration of payment and settlement systems.
The project specifically aims at: enhancing convergence and regional integration of payment and settlement systems; and strengthening a harmonized legislative and regulatory financial sector capacity in the Partner States. The Project is structured under the following components: Component 1: Integration of Financial Market Infrastructure; Component 2: Harmonization of Financial Laws and Regulations; and Component 3: Capacity Building.
The project commenced its operation in January, 2014 and it was officially launched in March, 2014.
Towards A Single Currency
The latest development is the 2013 Monetary Union protocol, which sets out the terms for the introduction of a single currency by 2024. The IMF has stated that greater integration is “expected to help sustain strong economic growth and improve economic efficiency. A larger regional market will lead to economies of scale, lower transaction costs, increased competition, and greater attractiveness as a destination for FDI.” The first step towards this goal has already been taken. In May 2014 the East African Payment System (EAPS) was launched. The new system will facilitate real-time cross-border payments between member states. Initially, the EAPS was operational between Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, linking the Tanzania Interbank Settlement System, the Kenya Electronic Payment and Settlement System, and the Uganda National Interbank Settlement. Lucy Kinunda, director of national payment systems at the Tanzanian central bank, told the local press, “We see the enthusiasm among commercial banks and traders building up as it facilitates intra-regional trade by reducing costs and risks in money transfers across border.”
While there is much expectation for the single currency and the political and economic integration it will bring, the main challenge will be the process of macroeconomic convergence. There has been substantial variation in inflation and economic growth rates within the EAC. For Kenya, there will also be a challenge in meeting the macroeconomic criteria laid out in the Monetary Union Protocol. In the decade to the end of 2013, Kenya only achieved the inflation target of below 8% in 2010 and 2013. The country fares better on the ratio of public debt to GDP, maintaining a ratio below the target level of 50% every year between 2008 and 2013. The member states have almost a decade to meet the convergence criteria.
SADC – Southern African Development Community – uses RAND as settlement Currency
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) aims to achieve economic development, peace and security, alleviate poverty, and enhance the standard and quality of life of the peoples of Southern Africa through regional integration. Current status In order to achieve the above objective, a comprehensive development and implementation framework – the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) – was formulated in 2001 guiding the regional integration over a period of fi fteen years (2005-2020). The RISDFP outlines key integration milestones in fi ve areas: free trade area, customs union, common market, monetary union and single currency. The free trade area was achieved in August 2008, meaning that for 85% of intra-regional trade there is zero duty. The second milestone, to establish a customs union, has been postponed, with a new target date of sometime in 2013. Although the ultimate goal of monetary union with a single currency is several years away, the SADC Payment System integration project is already in motion. This has strategic objectives to: harmonise legal and regulatory frameworks to facilitate regional clearing and settlement arrangements; implement an integrated regional cross-border payment settlement infrastructure; and establish a co-operative oversight arrangement based on the harmonised regulatory framework. The first phase of the cross-border payment settlement infrastructure (SIRESS) went live for the Common Monetary Area countries that use the South African rand (South Africa, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland) in July 2013. The new system allows the settlement of payment transactions in a central location using rand as the common settlement currency. Next steps – towards an Economic Union If successful, the new system will be rolled out to the rest of the SADC Member States as the region advances towards its eventual establishment as an economic union. In parallel, the immediate next step is the establishment of the SADC customs union, which presents a number of challenges; the major one is the establishment of a single Common External Tariff, which requires convergence of all individual tariff policies into a single and uniform tariff regime.
The first stage of the Sadc Integrated Regional Electronic Settlement System (SIRESS), being the first go-live involving countries in the Common Monetary Area (CMA) namely Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland, was initiated in July 2013. Phase Two involved Malawi, Tanzania and Zimbabwe going live in April 2014 followed by Mauritius and Zambia which went live in September 2014 under Phase Three. Since the launch of Siress, 43% of payments in the Sadc region are now executed through the system, which settles payments in South African rand. By April 2015 Siress had reached the ZAR1 trillion (US$85,1 billion) settlement mark. This phenomenal growth of Siress is emblematic of the growing importance and influence of regional payment systems in general, the rationale of which is the subject of this article.
As of 2015, 9 out of the 15 countries have joined the RTGS system.
ECOWAS – West Africa Monetary Zone (WAMZ)
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)’ Monetary Cooperation Programme (EMCP) provided the blueprint for the economic integration of the countries of West Africa. Amongst other measures, the EMCP called for the creation of a single monetary zone in the sub-regions known as the West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ). The WAMZ was created in April 2000 with the goal to establish an economic and monetary union of the member countries. In 2001, WAMZ created the West African Monetary Institute (WAMI) to undertake preparatory activities for the establishment of the West African Central Bank (WACB), and the launching of a monetary union for the Zone. The WAMZ programme aims to increase trade among the ECOWAS/WAMZ member countries, reduce transaction costs for the users of payment systems, domesticate cross-border transactions within the WAMZ through the use of a single currency, develop safe, secure and effi cient payment systems that conform to global standards and build a payment system that will facilitate monetary policy management for the WACB.
Ahead of the establishment of the WACB, having a modernised, safe and stable financial infrastructure in place is a prerequisite to introduce a monetary union successfully. To this effect, a grant of about USD 30 million from African Development Bank Fund was approved for the WAMZ Payments System Development Project, which aims to improve the basic infrastructure of the fi nancial sector through upgrade of the payment systems of our countries – The Gambia, Guinea, Sierra Lone and Liberia. The system components of the project include Real-Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) system, Automated Clearing House (ACH) / Automated Cheque Processing (ACP) systems, Central Securities Depository (CSD) / Scripless Securities Settlement (SSS) systems, Core Banking Application (CBA) system and infrastructure upgrade (telecommunication and energy). The Gambia’s high-value payment system went live in July 2012 and Sierra Leone is currently going through the implementation. The target date of the project completion in all four countries is June 2014.
COMESA – Common Market for East and Southern Africa
The COMESA launched the COMESA Customs Union in 2009 and the COMESA Regional Payment and Settlement System (REPSS) to facilitate crossborder payment and settlement between Central Banks in the COMESA region. The new system provides a single gateway for Central Banks within the region to effect payment and settlement of trades.
ECOWAS – WAEMU/UEMOA – West African Economic and Monetary Union
created as a single monetary zone is the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) / Union Economique et Monétaire Ouest Africaine (UEMOA). The WAEMU was established to promote economic integration among member countries and a common market that share West African francs (CFA francs) as a common currency, monetary policies, and French as an official language. It is a trade zone agreement to encourage internal development, improve trade, establish uniform tariffs for goods, establish a regional stock exchange and a regional banking system.
The UEMOA/WAEMU has successfully implemented macro-economic convergence criteria and an effective surveillance mechanism; adopted a customs union and common external tariff; and combined indirect taxation regulations, in addition to initiating regional structural and sectoral policies. Uniquely amongst Africa’s regionalisation projects, UEMOA/WAEMU has a single central bank, Banque Centrale des Etats de l’Afrique de l’Ouest (BCEAO), which governs all of the fi nancial institutions across the Union. As part of the project for modernisation of the payment and financial infrastructure, the BCEAO launched a regional Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) system in 2004 and the regional Automated Clearing House (ACH) system in 2008.
The SIP is a novel framework in the Americas, with several elements that dis- tinguish it from other cross-border arrangements: it involves participants in various countries, allows for payment flows in all directions among participants, uses an RTGS concept for its ‘hub’ and interlinks exclusively central bank RTGS systems, not ACHs, and uses a foreign currency for its settlement accounts.
There may certainly be some doubts as to whether the degree of existing commercial integration among the countries of Central America and the Dominican Republic will suffice to make SIP a commercially viable proposition.
But one can see the SIP as part of a wider initiative which seeks to develop the financial infrastructure with a view to furthering a regional financial market. The SIP will be an integral part of the local payment systems of CMCA member countries and, as such, will widen the coverage of available services to the benefit of participants of the national payment systems. Furthermore, the SIP could act as a direct stimulus for those banks that operate in only one of the member countries to offer affordable cross-border payment services to its clients and thus assist in the strengthening of regional financial integration.
Asia – South East Asia – ASEAN 5
Payment issues: Deputy Trade Minister Bayu Krisnamurthi (second right), accompanied by Artajasa president director Arya Damar (right), inspects a booth during the Integrated Payment System seminar in Jakarta on Wednesday. The seminar aimed at informing business players about the integrated payment system ahead of the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015. (Antara/Prasetyo Utomo)
Bank Indonesia (BI) is currently developing tools to create a more time-efficient and low-cost payment system ahead of the launch of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2015, when there will be a free flow of goods, services and people among ASEAN member countries.
‘We are working to develop a more integrated national payment system before having an integrated payment system within the ASEAN region,’ BI payment system executive director Rosmaya Hadi said at a seminar held by electronic payment service provider PT Artajasa Pembayaran Elektronik on Wednesday.
With the new system, the Indonesian banking industry will have a new real-time gross settlement system (RTGS) in which bank customers can carry out multi currency transactions on a real-time basis, she said.
‘With this system, a bank customer can carry out multicurrency transactions in only minutes through non-cash payments,’ she said, adding that BI would launch the new system this year.
Rosmaya also said the Indonesian central bank and its counterparts in five ASEAN members, including Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand, had agreed to prepare for an integrated payment system.
‘Central banks of the ASEAN 5 have formed task forces on trade settlements, retail payments, monthly remittances, capital market settlements and standardization to formulate a set of regulations and schemes with which we will have an ASEAN integrated payment system,’ she said.
Under the regional integrated payment system, people in ASEAN will be able to make financial transactions through ATMs, credit cards or electronic money without sacrificing much time and money.
According to a report by the ASEAN Working Committee on Payment and Settlement Systems (WC-PSS), the integrated payment system will reduce bank charges (such as foreign exchange spread among ASEAN currencies and handling fees), and encourage regulated non-bank remittance service providers to adopt international/common standards in retail payment systems.
Of all the ASEAN member countries, only Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand currently have full ATM interoperability, according to an Asian Development Bank Institute report published in 2013.
‘When the AEC commences, ASEAN member countries will have greater need for an integrated payment system as people from across the region will have to carry out transactions from and to their home countries,’ said Deputy Trade Minister Bayu Krisnamurthi at a similar event.
The AEC, also known as the ASEAN single market, will commence at the end of 2015. Under the AEC, the ASEAN 5 and Brunei Darussalam will have free trade agreements, while Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam will fully participate in the community in 2018.
Artajasa president director Arya Damar said that Indonesia should also develop its banking sector to tap its large market by utilizing more cashless transactions, otherwise other ASEAN countries’ banks would do so.
Citing BI data, Artajasa said that with a total of 800,000 local branches, commercial banks in Indonesia could reach only 20 percent of the total working-age population of around 150 million people.
‘Meanwhile, with only 15,000 ATMs, Malaysian commercial banks can reach 66 percent of its total working-age population,’ he said.
Thai commercial banks, with around 66,000 ATMs, can reach about 30 percent of Of Thailand’s total working-age population, he added. (koi)
SINGAPORE – The five largest members of ASEAN – Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and Thailand – have agreed to implement an integrated payment system to enable real time gross settlement (RTGS) systems to be in effect by next year.
“With this system, a bank customer can carry out multi-currency transactions in minutes through non-cash payments,” said Rosmaya Hadi with Bank Indonesia.
The ASEAN 5 Central Banks are currently working on establishing protocols for intra-trade settlement, retail payments, monthly remittances, capital market settlements and standardization to enable the system to be up and running by the time the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) unification occurs next January.
“When the AEC commences, ASEAN member countries will have greater need for an integrated payment system as people from across the region will have to carry out transactions from and to their home countries,” according to Deputy Trade Minister Bayu Krisnamurthi.
Under the system, individual users across ASEAN will be able to make financial payments through ATMs, credit cards, or electronic money without spending a significant amount of time or money doing so. As ASEAN currently has no plan to establish a unified currency, this program is expected to increase multi-currency transactions.
ASEAN members are also developing their ATM networks; Indonesia, for example, has an ATM reach of 20 percent of its total working population of 150 million, compared with 66 per cent for Malaysia.
Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand are currently the only ASEAN members to have full ATM integration according to the Asian Development Bank. This will soon change as the other ASEAN member nations work towards greater integration.
Indonesia, Thailand, Phillipines, Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei Darussalam in 2015
Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam to join in 2018
ASEAN +3 Cross Border Infrastructure
In Delhi in May 2013, the Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Japan, and the Republic of Korea—collectively known as ASEAN+3—agreed to set up a Cross-Border Settlement Infrastructure Forum (CSIF) to discuss detailed work plans and related processes for the improvement of cross-border settlement in the region, which included the possibility of establishing a regional settlement intermediary (RSI). Members, observers, and the CSIF Secretariat are listed in Appendix 1.
Based on the intensive discussions among CSIF members, the first report, Basic Principles on Establishing a Regional Settlement Intermediary and Next Steps Forward, was published by the Asian Development Bank in May 2014 after being endorsed by the ASEAN+3 finance ministers and Central Bank governors at their 17th meeting held in May 2014 in Astana. The members agreed that the central securities depository (CSD)–real-time gross settlement (RTGS) linkages, which connect national CSD systems and RTGS systems in a flexible
way, would be an achievable model for cross-border settlement infrastructure in the short term and medium term. This model linking existing infrastructure enables local bonds to be settled in delivery versus payment (DVP) via central bank money, which ensures the safety of settlement and is compliant with international standards, as well as being cost- efficient. As such, the CSD–RTGS linkages are to be studied as the most feasible model for implementing the RSI in ASEAN+3.
The Joint Statement of the 17th ASEAN+3 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting reads as follows:
We welcomed the recommendations submitted by the Cross-Border Settlement Infrastructure Forum (CSIF) and the direction of developing the implementation roadmap of CSD-RTGS linkages as short-term and medium-term goals and integrated solution as a long-term goal for making it possible to deliver securities smoothly and safely versus payment across borders. We are of the view that this is a practical and efficient approach to advance regional settlement infrastructure that promotes cross-border securities transactions in the region.
The 4th and 5th CSIF meetings were held in Hong Kong, China (September 2014) and Manila (January 2015), respectively. Specific topics to develop an implementation plan for the CSD–RTGS linkages—such as a desktop study, possible road map—were discussed at these meetings. As an initial step, the Bank of Japan (BOJ) and the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) agreed to conduct a desktop study.
Regional Integration in South Asia: BIMSTEC, SAARC, SAPTA, SAFTA
January 1, 2016, marked the tenth anniversary of the South Asian Free Trade Area (Safta). The agreement, which was reached in January 2004 at the 12th Saarc Summit in Islamabad, Pakistan, came into force on January 1, 2006, and became operational after the agreement was ratified by seven nations (Afghanistan, the eighth member, ratified it in May 2011).
It created a free trade area for the people of eight South Asian nations and aimed at reducing custom duties of all traded goods to zero by 2016. That year is here but the South Asian nations see trade among them making up a meagre five per cent of their total transactions.
The purpose of Safta was to promote common contract among the member-nations and provide them with equitable benefits. It also aimed at increasing the level of cooperation in economy and trade among the Saarc nations by lowering the tariff and barriers and give special preference to the least developed countries in the Saarc region.
Safta had a potential
At a time when regional trade blocs and free trade area have emerged as models of cooperative economic growth, the Safta had offered a great opportunity to take forward the process of South Asian integration.
But South Asia has too much problems
But South Asia is a unique regional entity in the entire world. It is a region which has remained a prisoner of the past and pressing geopolitical realities involving India, Pakistan and China.
Thanks to the relentless rivalry between India and Pakistan and the latter’s proximity to the Chinese who have included the strategy of containing India in its scheme of things in South Asia, the idea of integration of South Asia in other forms have remained elusive.
Other smaller countries like Nepal, Bengladesh, Maldives and Sri Lanka, too, have played the China card against India time and again, hurting the prospects of mutual confidence.
In such an atmosphere of suspicion, achieving what the Safta had envisioned a decade back has been next to impossible. Despite a free trade pact since 2006, trade among South Asian nations makes up five percent of their total trade. They share few transport and power connections between them.
We saw how Saarc fell apart at its 2014 summit
We saw how the Saarc was split during the 18th summit held in Kathmandu in 2014 end when India and Nepal accused Pakistan of creating an obstacle on the way of regional integration by refusing to sign three multilateral agreements, including road trade and sharing of electricity.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi even went to the extent of warning at that time, saying the integration would happen through the Saarc or without it.
He found backing in the Nepali ranks. India then went ahead with ties (visa, energy, road) with other neighbours like Nepal and Bangladesh and also promised to cut its trade surplus with the South Asian nations. But in all, Modi expressed displeasure that the progress was too slow.
Despite the presence of instruments like Safta and Bimstec (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation), South Asia has only languished. The state of affairs in connectivity, financial infrastructure including banking and mobility of people and goods have remained stuck in the complex cobweb of customs, visa and transit norms.
India, too, is responsible for the poor state of affairs
India, being the largest nation in South Asia, has been equally guilty by not attaching much significance to the forum in the past, as it did in nurturing relation with the West and Russia. There has been a sheer lack of continuity in the country’s successive governments’ priorities towards South Asia.
For most, a combative policy towards Pakistan and dominating approach towards the smaller neighbours have been the most-after stand. No wonder, opportunities like Safta were lost without a trace.
Can Narendra Modi govt turn the tables around?
However, the Narendra Modi regime has attached much importance to the issue of South Asian integration which is a silver lining. The way India’s PM invited all South Asian heads of states or representatives to his swearing-in ceremony or kicked off his foreign tours with visits to small states like Bhutan and Nepal or suddenly landed in Lahore to reach out to his Pakistani counterpart-all these suggest that his government aspires to see a better surroundings.
Yes, there have been a serious goof-up by India’s foreign-policy makers in Nepal in the wake of its ratifying a new constitution, which has left the Himalayan neighbour distraught, but yet going by PM Modi’s general intent of improving the state of South Asian cooperation, the decade-old Safta could still have a future.
As of now, the wait will be for the 19th Saarc summit in Islamabad later this year.