Central bankers to talk payments at annual conference

Latvia's central bank is to get back to basics and take a break from the corruption scandal that has sullied its name by concentrating on the everyday business of making payments at its annual conference next month.

October 3 will see Latvijas Banka play host at a conference on a topic it says is ''vital for every individual, entrepreneur and the financial sector as a whole, i.e. on development of modern payment services.''

The international conference titled: "Payments of 22nd century: future starts today" (sic) will take place at VEF Culture Palace, Riga, on 3 October from 9.00 to 13.30. Policy makers from Latvia and the euro area representing the field of interbank payments, business leaders of the international and Latvian financial technology sector as well as financial sector experts will be among participants.

The opening speech will be made by Zoja Razmusa, Deputy Governor of Latvijas Banka, who is now the public face of the central bank with still-serving governor Ilmars Rimsevics fighting allegations he solicited a large bribe and refusing to stand down in the meantime while he fights the allegations which he strenuously denies.

The keynote speech will be delivered by Yves Mersch, Member of the Executive Board of the European Central Bank and Member of the Governing Council of the European Central Bank.

It will be followed by two discussion panels titled "Global trends in payment changes" and "Topical issues in payments in Europe and Latvia in the near future".

Detailed information on the conference as well as its live coverage will be available on the website of Latvijas Banka at www.makroekonomika.lv. Media representatives are invited to attend the forum and make themselves known by contacting the Press Office of Latvijas Banka before the conference. Conference working language: English; simultaneous interpreting into Latvian will be provided.

This year's conference looks like breaking with the pattern of recent years in which the central bank liked to think of itself as a think-tank, offering presentations on topics such as tax reform and education that are not part of its main remit. But on the subject of interbank payments there can be no doubt the central bank has an important role to play, and with parliamentary elections happening just 3 days afterwards, a good deal of attention is likely to paid to every utterance.

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