Regulating domestic payments

 

A major objective of the European authorities is to facilitate access to all its citizens to banking services in a safe and transparent manner – the same conditions in any European Union Member State – by delivering better quality services, more efficient products and alternatives for making payments at lower costs.

New regulations were issued in order to foster consumers’ financial mobility with a view to provide more transparency of fees and to encourage customers’ participation to the payment market, taking especially into account the needs of vulnerable consumers. Financial inclusion represents a current aspect at European level, being one of the main points of the European Platform against poverty and social exclusions and a strategic objective of Europe 2020.

Thus, Directive EU no. 92/2014 on the comparability of fees related to payment accounts, payment account switching and access to payment accounts with basic features, applicable since September 2016, has as intention to facilitate access to payment accounts with basic features for the consumers not using banking services at national level and also providing access for consumers to payment services at cross-border level.

European consumers will be able to open a payment account with any payment services provider from the European Union, irrespective whether they are or not residents of the country where the provider is located. The Directive promotes a basic payment account and a set of associated payment services: cash operations, credit transfer operations, direct debiting and card payments. Moreover, the Directive intends to provide fee transparency and comparability and to facilitate the process underlying the switching of a payment account belonging to a consumer from one credit institution to another credit institution.

Another important European regulation in the field of payments is Directive EU no. 2366/2015, applicable since January 2018 revising the Payment Services Directive – Directive EC no. 64/2007, transposed into the Romanian legislation via G.E.O. no. 113/2009 on payment services.

This Directive expands the scope and coverage area of Directive EC no. 64/2007, being applicable to the payments made inside the European Economic Area (EEA) and the payments to and from the countries outside this area, in any currency.

The Directive contains provisions for a better protection of consumers against fraud, or potential payment abuses and incidents. Moreover, enhanced rights are stipulated for consumers to make money transfers and remittances outside Europe or payments in currencies of third party countries.

The new regulation encourages the occurrence of some new service providers and the development in Europe of innovative payment manners via mobile phones and via the Internet, with a view to foster the European Union competitiveness at global level.

Directive EU no. 2366/2015 expands the category of Payment Institutions with new types of players, via provisions that allow access to bank accounts for some external entities which can give customers information regarding the accounts and services to initiate payments. These providers will have to observe the same standards in regulation and supervision as the other payment institutions.

Credit institutions and all the payment services providers will have to increase the security level of online transactions, by including a stricter protocol for customer authentication to make the payment. The European Banking Authority (EBA) together with the European Central Bank (ECB) draw up regulatory technical standards regarding customer authentication requirements and secured communications in the context of the provisions of Directive EU no. 2366/2015, with publication deadline January 2017.

Credit institutions must also apply the recommendations of the European Central Bank and the Guide issued by the European Banking Authority (EBA) concerning payment security via the Internet, which target payment services providers, just like the authorities that assure the governance of payment Schemes from European Union Member States, by defining a set of minimal common requirements for payment services via the Internet, irrespective of the access device used: card payments, including virtual payments, the execution of credit transfers, credit via the Internet, issuing and amending electronic mandates for direct debiting and the transfer of electronic money between two e-money accounts, via the Internet.

For the banking sector, the implications of these new European regulations pertain to the reorganization of its operational processes, amending contracts with customers, major developments in IT systems, the implementation of solutions for strong authentication, the implementation of a flexible organizational structure.

The banking community from Romania has been concerned to transpose these European regulations into the national legislation and the uniform application across the community of the new provisions, being in a permanent dialogue with the authorities in the transposition process.

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