By Helen Allen of the Bank's Market Infrastructure Division.
Ways to make retail payments using the internet and mobile phones are proliferating. Some are offering new access routes to existing payment means, others use different means to transfer value, but all attempt to provide greater convenience and choice in payment services. Few, however, have reached critical mass and none has displaced existing payment methods. Nevertheless, the prospect that these new services could be widely used raises some policy questions. For example, central banks are interested in any potential effects on financial stability and, in the longer term, in whether such innovation might have monetary policy implications. For these reasons, central banks monitor the evolution of the market, even though any such impacts may be a long way off. Moreover, it may well be that the system-wide risks will be relatively small even if e-payment usage becomes significant.