Today, the Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) has published its annual report and accounts for 2021/22, setting out how it made a difference over the past financial year. 

2021/22 was a year that saw the PSR impose its largest ever fine, boost protections against payment scams for millions making online payments, ensure free to use cash machines remained available and in easy reach, and confirm the framework for delivering the next generation of payments infrastructure. It was also a year that saw the PSR confirm its priorities for the next five years with a new Strategy. 

Chris Hemsley, the PSR’s Managing Director, said:  

“Payments are the UK’s most-used financial service and last year we made genuine and tangible improvements to people’s day to day lives. I’m very proud of the steps we’ve taken to make sure payment systems will continue to offer access, protection and choice for everybody that uses them – which is all of us.” 

The highlights from 2021/22 include: 

Effective enforcement  

  • The PSR investigated and took action against five companies for cartel behaviour in the prepaid cards market, resulting in fines totalling more than £33 million.  

Improving security  

  • Over 1 billion checks have been made using Confirmation of Payee (CoP), preventing misdirected payments and fraud. More people will benefit from this extra security when they make account-to-account payments, thanks to the PSR’s specific direction expanding the coverage of CoP. 

Fighting scams 

  • Continued work in the fight against authorised push payment (APP) scams meant £246.8 million was returned to victims over the last year. The regulator has proposed new measures which would let people see how their bank is performing, and help more victims get reimbursed.  

Maintaining cash access 

  • Together with other regulators, authorities and industry, the PSR made sure people and businesses continue to have access to cash across the UK. Its work included issuing a new specific direction to LINK, the UK’s largest ATM network, aimed at maintaining the spread of free-to-use ATMS.   

Foundations for the future   

  • The PSR set out its future regulatory framework for Pay.UK to follow as it delivers the UK’s New Payments Architecture, addressing risks to competition and innovation.   

An alternative to cards 

  • The regulator began work to make account-to-account payments a realistic alternative to credit and debit cards, using new open banking services. This should give people and businesses more choice and flexibility in the way they pay.   

A strategic approach  

  • The PSR engaged with stakeholders to develop and launch its five-year Strategy. This sets out the outcomes it wants to see and the priority areas it will focus on. It also confirms the regulator’s work to support new ways of paying, as cryptocurrencies become more important in payments. 
  • The new Strategy, Analysis and Monitoring division will ensure the PSR makes good use of data and evidence to support its work, so it can focus its resources efficiently.  

Helping merchants  

  • The regulator published plans to help UK retailers find better deals for accepting card payments, following the final report of its card-acquiring market review.  

What’s next?  

The PSR will build on this important work to make sure payment systems continue working well for everyone. The regulator already has major pieces of work underway, including two market reviews of card fees.   

Earlier this year, the PSR published its annual plan, which sets out its key aims and activities for the financial year 2022/23 in more detail.