Regulating and auto-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. At the national level, the European regulations in the area of payments have been applied, as the case may be, directly, as is the case with the EU Regulations, by means of transposition legislation or by specific regulations issued by the National Bank of Romania as a national competent authority in this area.

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. În this regard, 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. Where this was the case, at the level of the Romanian Association of Banks, self-regulation processes were initiated, which adopted common rules aimed at ensuring the operationalization of European and national regulations so as to increase the efficiency of the payment processes for their clients.

EU Member States have adopted SEPA Payment Schemes which have introduced uniform rules on euro payment relationships across the European area for credit transfers, direct debits and card payments. At the national level, credit institutions have adopted, based on the EPC agreement and the NBR opinion, the Convention on National Payment Schemes which adapted the SEPA rules sets and for payments in lei.

Also, 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. In this regard, 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 the consumers.

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. 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 has been transposed into national law by Law no 258/2017.

EU Directive 92/2014 on the comparability of fees related to payment accounts, switching payment accounts and access to payment accounts with basic services was transposed into national legislation by Law no. 258/2017.

In order to ensure the operationalization of the requests to change the accounts and to facilitate the clients’ access to this service, the credit institutions in Romania adopted in 2018, based on the NBR’s agreement, the Convention on the procedures for changing the customer’s payment accounts. The Convention replaces the Common Rules regarding the mobility of current accounts in lei of the natural persons adopted at the level of the Romanian Association of Banks in 2010

Another important European regulation in the field of payments that also primarily targets the consumers of financial services is Directive EU no. 2366/2015, applicable since January 2018 revising the Payment Services Directive – Directive EC no. 64/2007.

Directive EU 2366/2015 on payment services in the internal market has been transposed into national law by Law no. 209/2019 on payment services.

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.