去年夏天，英格兰银行列出规划，将扩大其支付系统接入许可。上周三，英格兰银行行长Mark Carney说：“在竞争和创新之下，我们预计支付技术的多样化和降风险性将强化金融稳定，同时提升客户服务。”快速支付计划首席执行官Craig Tillotson也表示，为TransferWise开放接入许可的举措，让金融科技公司能够和银行“在同一地平线上竞争”。
TransferWise has become the first fintech group to gain direct access to the Bank of England’s interbank payment systems, as regulators and the government step up their efforts to encourage competition in the UK’s financial sector.
The British payments group on Wednesday became the first non-bank to hold an account in the BoE’s “Real Time Gross Settlement” system, allowing it to process payments into the UK without going through a commercial bank.
Kristo Käärmann, TransferWise chief executive, said settling transactions directly would allow it to speed up its money transfers while cutting costs. The company has been aggressively reducing the fees it charges customers in recent months in order to increase volumes, and Mr Käärmann said the benefits of the BoE’s move would be passed on to customers in the form of further fee reductions.
The Bank of England outlined its plans to widen access to its payment systems last summer, and on Wednesday governor Mark Carney said: “by stimulating competition and innovation, we anticipate increased diversity and risk-reducing payment technologies will reinforce financial stability while enhancing customer service.”
Craig Tillotson, chief executive of the Faster Payments Scheme that TransferWise will now gain direct access to, said the move allows fintech to compete with banks “on a level playing field”.
British regulators have repeatedly won praise from tech leaders and other businesses for encouraging the growth of fintech, and Mr Käärmann said the BoE, along with the Financial Conduct Authority and Treasury, had “done a great job of showing the rest of the world what’s possible”.
Mr Käärmann called on authorities in other countries such as the US Federal Reserve to take similar steps, adding: “I think that’s a question now we should ask the Fed: a big thing for them has been to get away from a slower system to same-day processing and instant payments, but why restrict access to banks only?”
The growth of new non-bank companies in areas such as fintech has already started eating into banks’ traditional revenue sources: almost 14 per cent of revenues in the UK banking and payments sector in 2017 was earned by companies that did not exist ten years ago, according to a forthcoming report by Accenture.
The competition has spurred some to fight back with their own new products, however, with Santander last week launching a blockchain-based foreign exchange service that it hopes will rival TransferWise.