National Payments Council meets: The National Plan for financial inclusion and reduction of cash usage is being discussed

31/01/2024

The National Payments Council, in order to support reforms in the field of payments through the expansion of inclusion and increased cooperation between market actors in the payment system in the Republic of Kosovo, held the first meeting after re-functionalization, with expanded membership. This Council serves as an advisory body in support of reforms in the field of payments and in increasing the safety of the National Payments System.

The Governor of the Central Bank of the Republic of Kosovo, Mr. Ahmet Ismaili, the Minister of Finance, Labour and Transfers, Mr. Hekuran Murati, welcomed the meetings with opening remarks, while the Council was chaired by the Deputy Governor, Mr. Dardan Fusha, with the participation of public and international institutions, private and financial sector and developing partners.

Governor Ismaili at the beginning of the re-founding and opening meeting for 2024, stated that a sound and efficient system of payments in the financial system of the Republic of Kosovo supports the further development of financial intermediation, the increase of financial stability thus creating a climate in which investors can expand their businesses making trade cheaper and providing consumers with easier access to goods and services.

"A developed financial payment system where payments are made at a reasonable cost and time efficiency makes trade cheaper and enables competitive firms to grow and provide consumers with easier access to goods and services," Governor Ismaili emphasized.

According to the Governor of the CBK, a developed payment system ensures the reduction of negative effects and ensures integrity in the country's financial system.

"At the same time, a developed payment system ensures the protection of the integrity of the financial system and the Euro currency, the reduction of negative effects from the phenomenon of money counterfeiting, the protection of consumers and the advancement of market practices, the reduction of the effects of money laundering activities and terrorism financing, increased access to financial services and financial inclusion", Governor Ismail emphasized.

The head of the CBK added that the advancement of the payment system will accelerate the access of the Republic of Kosovo to the Single Euro Payment Area of the European Union known as SEPA and the Instant  Payment System of the European Union known as TIPS, as a strategic objective of the CBK.

"The advancement of the payment system will also accelerate access to the Single Euro Payments Area of the European Union known as SEPA, which has the task of effectively bringing internal and cross-border payments within the EU to the same level of cost, time efficiency and safety as well as access to the EU Instant Payment System known as TIPS which is part of the Eurosystem since 2018", the head of the CBK added.

Mentioning the 2024-2028 Strategic Plan of CBK, Governor Ismaili listed some of the activities that are planned and related to the field of the payment system. He listed some of the actions already taken in the regulatory and legal aspect, as preparation for the implementation of the Plan.

"The advancement of the payment system presents significant challenges both from the perspective of the CBK and from the perspective of banks and non-banking financial institutions, and this requires close cooperation and coordination. Special attention should be paid to the risks that these developments bring, with an emphasis on cyber ones and not only", Governor Ismaili pointed out.

Financial education will be the focus of the CBK, alongside the advancement of market practices and consumer protection. Therefore, campaigns will be organized and supported for the financial education of users of payment services regarding the benefits, implementation method, safety and importance of digital/electronic payments.

"On the other hand, the expansion of physical and hardware infrastructure, access to finance and inclusiveness are also intended to be achieved through this present mechanism, which gradually puts us on the path to a cashless economy, and an integrated system of instant payments. In order to achieve this together, commitment and coordination is required from everyone, so I thank all of you for your presence and institutional and personal contribution," Governor Ismaili said.

On this occasion, Governor Ismaili took the opportunity to thank the Ministry of Finance, Labour and Transfers for the cooperation and coordination, as well as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank for the technical assistance given to the CBK over the years, supporting us through the Payments and Remittances Program financed by SECO and the Project for the Modernization of the Payment System of the Western Balkan countries under the administration of the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) and financed by the European Union, for which we express our deep gratitude as well.

Also, he thanked the Government of the United States of America and its institutions, with emphasis on the US Department of the Treasury and USAID for the continuous support given to the CBK in building capacities for various fields related to the mandate of the CBK- and especially for the projects that we have in the process related to the field of access to finance and the development of the capital market.

At the end, Governor Ismaili reiterated the great contribution and impact on the economy of Kosovo that the reduction of cash and informality has, the advancement of national payments and its connection with the TIPS system.

"Let me conclude by reiterating that the advancement of the national system through the possibility of 'instant' payments (24/7), as well as the interconnection to the TIPS system, as an objective of the CBK, when achieved will have a great impact on the economy of our country, the region, the diaspora, as well as the circulation of payments for commercial exchanges with the EU, as the largest commercial partner of the Republic of Kosovo with an importance for the free movement of capital, services and products, including the free movement of people through visa liberalization that started on 1 January of this year," Governor Ismaili concluded.