One of the largest issues for almost all financial undertakings in Europe in recent years, and currently my largest project, is implementation of the EU payment services directive, PSD2. The aim of PSD2 is to increase security in web payments and give actors other than banks access to customer accounts, having of course first obtained express permission from each customer! This means that we will open self-service solutions based on APIs that allow service providers to offer customers transaction services and view of their accounts in third-party apps. Such apps communicate securely with the banking system through the APIs. PSD2 also enhances requirements for increased security in payments and our customers will notice various changes in the year, such as in the login and payment confirmation process.
The Icelandic Banks' Data Centre (RB) has worked on implementing the Sopra system in recent years, a comprehensive and wide-reaching undertaking that all domestic banks have participated in, each in its turn. This is clearly the largest single project I have been involved in, with Landsbankinn pioneering the change and completing the transition in fall 2017. The last few entities are scheduled to take the system into use around mid-February. This will allow us to finally phase out use of RB’s payment and deposit system. That is a big project that involves Landsbankinn directly as we still host various solutions on RB’s mainframe computer that will be decommissioned. I recently became a Director of the Board of RB and it will be interesting to participate in this and other projects, both through the directorship and my work for the Bank.
There are many large and challenging projects on the horizon, including the transposition of European guidelines into Icelandic payment services. We have been used to early technological advancement in Iceland, with real-time payments enabled by RB already in 1987! We were the first country in the world by a considerable margin to make this possible and today, we think nothing of transferring funds in a matter of seconds. This is a recent development for our European friends. They are ahead of us in that they can transfer euros between countries in real time while this takes several hours and up to a day for us. This work in Europe has been led by the European Payments Council (EPC) where I sit on the Board of Directors as a representative of the Icelandic banks. The work is coordinated and undertaken in collaboration with the entire market, meaning that all banks are using the same methods and going by the same guidelines. We are looking to see how we can adapt our infrastructure to the European standards. It is important for us to be on equal footing with the European market as this increases our chances of participating in international or European partnerships on payments, both for the benefit of the Bank and our customers.”