Cross-Eurozone payments using mobile numbers as an identifier are expected to be available by the end of the year, according to European Central Bank (ECB) executive board member Yves Mersch (pictured).

Addressing a French Payments Committee conference last week, Mersche said 2017 would be a year of “decisive action”, which will enable a range of innovations in the Eurozone’s retail payment sector and smooth transactions for consumers. One of the central developments, he said, would be the ability to transfer money to individuals using their phone number as a proxy for International Bank Account Numbers (IBANs).

Eurosystem – the monetary authority of the Eurozone comprised of the ECB and national banks of states using the Euro – previously identified this innovation as one that could smooth instant transactions across the economic area. In its documents on the issue, the organisation said the payment system should be adopted alongside other infrastructural changes in the sector.

According to Mersch, the Eurosystem person to person mobile payment initiative is one of the “three most important areas for improving user experience in retail payments,” alongside improving facilities for cross-border instant Euro payments and developing integrated payment infrastructure standards.

During the speech to finance professionals, he said: “Eurosystem expects the launch of a standardised look-up service that allows person to person mobile payments using the mobile phone number as a proxy for the IBAN by the end of 2017.”

He added: “We can look forward to 2017 being a year of decisive action for innovation in retail payments”.