On 19 March 2021, the European Central Bank (ECB) issued a paper regarding best practices by financial market infrastructures in their business continuity plans during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ECB reports that since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic the Eurosystem has been collecting information on the preparedness of payment systems/schemes and their critical service providers for dealing with the pandemic as well as their responses and resilience in terms of withstanding this shock. The ECB has noted the different approaches that have been taken and has now put together a set of key market practices for pandemic crisis planning.

The paper that the ECB has published aims to:

  • Provide support for the overseers in monitoring overseen entities, therefore ensuring that the respective system operators are managing the crisis effectively.
  • Identify what market practices related to pandemic crisis planning are or could be applied by payment systems/schemes in their business continuity plans in a flexible way, taking into account the specificities of each entity.

The market practices in the paper may also be valid for other financial market infrastructures.

The purpose of the paper is to serve as a reference guide for overseers and operators and does not represent prescriptive oversight expectations.