BBA In Talks About Payments Council Merger
The banking industry's main lobbying group is considering proposals to merge with at least two of its peers amid pressure from leading members to reduce costs levied by trade organisations.
Sky News understands that the British Bankers' Association (BBA) discussed potential mergers involving the Payments Council and the UK Cards Association at a board meeting last week.
The talks were preliminary and it is unclear whether either idea will progress to a more formal stage, according to one person familiar with the talks.
The discussions come at a time of significant structural change in the banking industry and associated sectors, with a new payments industry regulator introduced by next April to oversee the infrastructure which processes £75 trillion in annual payments.
"There are lots of conversations taking place about what the future will look like and how the industry organises itself," said one insider.
It is not the first time the BBA has examined a combination with one of its peers.
In 2012, it looked at a possible tie-up with the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) but the idea did not progress.
That followed the loss of the BBA's revenues from administering the Libor benchmark rates, a role it gave up in the wake of the manipulation scandal which cost the chairman and chief executive of Barclays their jobs.
The BBA previously generated millions of pounds each year from selling licences to data providers to allow them to publish Libor benchmark data.
Sources said that Libor accounted for roughly 20% of the BBA's revenue before oversight of the benchmarks switched to third parties last year.
Fees for membership of the BBA are paid on a sliding scale dictated by a bank's size, with major high street lenders such as Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland paying the largest sums.
Last year, the BBA received just over £7.5m in subscription fees, up from £6.2m in 2012.
Bank executives say they are anxious to keep a lid on the cost of trade body memberships at a time when their businesses are under myriad other cost pressures.
The BBA and Payments Council declined to comment.
A spokesman for the UK Cards Association said: "The UK Cards Association is the independent trade association for the card payments industry. We have had no merger discussions with any organisations, and are continuing to provide independent representation for our members across issues concerning card payments."