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What is IPSO?

The Irish Payment Services Organisation Limited (IPSO) was established in June 1997. IPSO is the representative industry body, the voice and guardian of the payments industry and the strategic interface with all payments stakeholders. Its fundamental principles are to preserve the integrity and security of the payment systems and to promote and oversee the strategic development of such systems in the interest of the industry and the general public.


IPSO seeks to ensure:

  • the orderly and planned development of the payments industry
  • the maintenance of a high level of integrity and improvement in the efficiency of payment systems
  • the development of cost efficient and competitive payment systems
  • the facilitation of a competitive market, meeting the needs and requirements of stakeholders
  • the provision of a balanced response to key public policy issues


IPSO’s role is to provide strategic leadership and direction to the payments industry as a whole, including the impact of technology, regulation, European and international developments and communicate strategic guidance to the individual arms of the industry. IPSO is charged with developing best practice guidelines for clearing companies and payment schemes on issues such as constitution, rules, entry criteria, accountability and risk management. IPSO facilitates the establishment by the clearing companies and payment schemes of appropriate legal, security and audit frameworks – including security guidelines, fraud control initiatives, data protection, systemic risk controls and regulation.


IPSO is also the voice of the payments industry on issues with industry wide impact on regulators,  Irish Government, media, European bodies etc. This includes ensuring that opinion-formers and regulators are assisted in understanding the payments industry and that public debate on payments issues is well informed.


IPSO provides central programme management of key industry initiatives, such as CHIP and PIN migration, SEPA, National Payments Implementation Programme (jointly with the Irish Government) and fraud prevention. This includes facilitating the sharing of non-competitive information about the payments industry including the compilation and provision, on a non-specific basis, of research, statistics and publications.


IPSO manages industry-wide issues such as systemic risk, security exposure and crisis management. It provides consultancy services to members, clearing companies, payment schemes and special interest groups. IPSO monitors and promotes payments industry interoperability and standards development. It facilitates innovation and assists in the design of future payment systems development. The chief executive of IPSO is a director of IPSO and each of the clearing companies and payment schemes. This is to ensure consistency and unity of purpose across the industry, that cross-clearing and industry-wide issues are appropriately coordinated and implemented, and to enable the IPSO Chief Executive to advise and offer guidance on IPSO policy, industry strategy and other related matters.


IPSO’s primary role is discharged at a strategic level. IPSO does not own or operate, the physical infrastructure, but IPSO does have a critical role to play in the development of that common infrastructure, which requires the participation and cooperation of competitor payment institutions. This co-operation is essential in order to deliver a robust payments system to Irish consumers and businesses, which is vital to the smooth running of the economy.


The IPSO board has a broad membership so as to represent fairly, the different types and size of IPSO’s members and other payment stakeholders. The board of directors includes three independent non-executive director positions as well as an independent non-executive chairman. The decision of the Board to appoint a wholly independent chairman demonstrates the board’s commitment to transparency and recognition of the increasing need to involve non-bank interests in IPSO decision making. The Central Bank of Ireland, as regulator of payments systems in Ireland, has been represented at IPSO board meetings since IPSO was established in 1997.


In delivering its strategic objectives IPSO is mindful of the wider stakeholder community and the environment in which it operates.

What is the National Payment System?

Ireland’s national payment system encompasses the set of rules and procedures relating to the clearing and exchange of different types of payments, in addition to the mechanism for effecting settlement. These rules and procedures ensure the safety, soundness and efficiency of payment transactions.


Large-value payments and interbank settlement are effected using TARGET2, the European Central Bank settlement system for high-value euro payments. It is used for the settlement of central bank operations, large-value euro interbank transfers as well as other euro payments. It provides real-time processing, settlement in central bank money and immediate finality. In February 2008, the national Real-time Gross Settlement (RTGS) system known as IRIS, which commenced operations in March 2007, was replaced by TARGET2. Prior to the introduction of RTGS, large-value payments and interbank settlements were carried out via the Daily Interbank Settlement system (DIS), an end-of-day gross settlement system.


Retail payment clearing functions are carried out by two separately incorporated clearing companies, one for paper debit and credit items, (e.g. cheques and paper credit transfers), and one for debit and credit electronic payments. Each of the companies has a set of rules, which govern the process whereby items are exchanged for value between the financial institutions, which participate in the clearing system. The system operates on a multilateral net settlement basis, with the end-of-day settlement payments being effected at the Central Bank via the RTGS system. The current clearing structure became operational in 1999, replacing the previous clearing system, which was known as the Dublin Bankers’ Clearing Committee.


Laser Card Services Ltd. manages and operates the Laser debit card scheme in Ireland.

How Does it Work?

Step 1:  Payment services offered by one of the many means available – cheque, direct debit, credit transfer, standing order, debit card, etc.
Step 2:  Clearing, the daily process by which IPSO members exchange interbank payment items drawn on and payable to each other, and then determine the net amounts owed to each other

Step 3: Settlement, the procedure by which IPSO members use funds held with the Central Bank to settle net obligations to all other members.


Future Development of Payment Systems
Payment systems are multi-million euro core activities of the Irish financial institutions and thus demand top-level understanding, focus and support.

IPSO seeks to develop industry strategy and identifies the opportunities for future payment systems development. A key part of IPSO’s work programme is the definition, development and implementation of the National Payments Implementation Programme for Ireland, to ensure that payment systems in Ireland continue to develop in a planned and orderly way and with the most efficient infrastructure.

This involves IPSO, its members, Government and other stakeholders working together to evolve to a new payments landscape, which will be comprehensively electronic. All indications are that payments will have developed further and faster in the next few years than they have in any past decade, as the world adapts to the internet and mobile communications.


The payments industry within Ireland is very diverse, offering numerous payment and related products, including:


  • Single high-value automated credits
  • Files of low-value automated credits and debits
  • Cheque payments and paper credit transfers
  • Debit card payments
  • Credit card payments
  • Payment messages via the SWIFT Network
  • Cross-border payments 

 The payments industry makes it possible for Irish citizens and companies alike to withdraw cash from banking machines, use cheques, credit transfers, debit cards and make electronic payments.


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