Payment Systems:

Central Bank Roles Vary, but Goals Are the Same

GAO-02-303: Published: Feb 25, 2002. Publicly Released: Feb 25, 2002.

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Thomas J. McCool
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The central banks of major industrialized countries have agreed on common policy objectives and presented them in the Core Principles for Systematically Important Payment Systems. Intended to help promote safer and more efficient payment systems worldwide, the Core Principles outline specific policy recommendations for systematically important payment systems and describe the responsibilities of the central banks. All of the central banks GAO studied seek to ensure that their wholesale payment systems operate smoothly and minimize systemic risk. All of the central banks provide settlement services for their countries' wholesale payment systems. Some central banks also provide wholesale clearing services. Other central banks own the system but have little operational involvement in clearing, while others participate in partnerships with the private sector. All of the central banks GAO studied provide settlement for some retail payment systems. Some, but not all, central banks exercise regulatory authority over retail payment systems in their countries. Central banks also tend to have less operational involvement in countries where there is a relatively concentrated banking industry. In some cases, laws governing payments and the structure of the financial services industry direct the involvement of central banks in retail payment systems.

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