Core Principles for Systemically Important Payment Systems

January 2001

Foreword

There are a number of international initiatives under way to maintain financial stability by strengthening financial infrastructure. The Committee on Payment and Settlement Systems (CPSS) of the central banks of the Group of Ten countries is contributing to this process through its work on developing core principles for systemically important payment systems.

The CPSS established a Task Force on Payment System Principles and Practices in May 1998 to consider what principles should govern the design and operation of payment systems in all countries. The Task Force has developed an international consensus on such principles. It comprised representatives not only from the G10 central banks and the European Central Bank, but also from 11 other national central banks of countries in different stages of economic development from all over the world and representatives from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. In developing universal principles, it consulted groups of central banks in Africa, the Americas, Asia, the Pacific rim and Europe.

In December 1999 the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) published a draft of the Core Principles for comment from the wider financial community. From the responses it was clear that there is strong and widespread international support for the Core Principles. It was also clear from both the written and oral comments that many readers would value more detail on how to interpret and implement the Core Principles. Accordingly, the Task Force developed a second part of this report, which provides such guidance. Public comments were sought once again on a draft of the second part and the responses demonstrated continuing extensive support for the exercise and its results.

The Core Principles are expressed deliberately in a general way to help ensure that they can be useful in all countries and that they will be durable. They do not represent a blueprint for the design or operation of any individual system, but suggest the key characteristics that all systemically important payment systems should satisfy. The second part of the report therefore discusses in more depth the interpretation of the Core Principles, by giving more detailed examples of issues to be addressed in complying with the Core Principles and of ways in which these issues have been tackled in some particular contexts. It does not and cannot provide a single model for every practical application of the Core Principles. It is already apparent that both the Core Principles and the explanatory second part of the report are being used widely to analyse payment systems and to guide oversight and reform. That was the purpose of the exercise; I hope the report will continue to prove helpful for many years to come.

The CPSS is grateful to the members of the Task Force and its Chairman, John Trundle of the Bank of England, for their hard work in preparing this report and to the CPSS Secretariat at the BIS for their able support. The CPSS is also grateful to its former Chairmen, Mr William McDonough, who initiated the exercise, and Mr Wendelin Hartmann for his constant encouragement and support for this endeavour.

Tommaso Padoa-Schioppa, Chairman
Committee on Payment and Settlement Systems