The PSR plans to bolster protections in payments

11/02/2021

  • Two calls for views launched exploring greater protections for everyone

  • The regulator considers ways to mandate reimbursing victims of APP scams

  • PSR also wants to understand the levels of protection for consumers in bank-to-bank payments

Today, the PSR launches two calls for views exploring greater protections for everyone using payment systems: one relating to the protections against APP scams, and the other looking more broadly at consumer protection in interbank (bank-to-bank) payments.

Authorised Push Payment (APP) scams (when someone is tricked into making a payment to a fraudster) have been a significant focus for the PSR. These scams can have a devastating impact on victims and while the introduction of the Contingent Reimbursement Model (CRM) Code (1) has seen some victims getting their money back, last year the PSR called on industry to deliver better outcomes for victims.

In the first half of 2020, losses due to APP scams totalled £208 million (2). In the regulator’s proposals, there are three measures that could help to stop APP scams from happening and, when they do, protect the people who fall victim. These measures would apply to payments made through Faster Payments and Bacs Direct Credit:

  • Making sure everyone can see how banks and building societies handle APP scams, by requiring them to publish their APP scam data, including reimbursement and repatriation (3) levels.
  • Making it harder for fraudsters, by requiring banks and building societies to adopt a standardised approach to sharing data which will help identify these scams to stop them from happening in the first place.
  • Extending customer protection across all banks and building societies at a minimum standard by changing payment system rules.

The PSR considers the three options – applied individually or in combination – could make a significant impact on the prevention of APP scams so people don’t become victims in the first place and, where someone does, that stronger protections are in place to help them. By strengthening protections against APP scams – including by extending protections beyond the current CRM code signatories – a reimbursement standard that is mandatory will mean better outcomes can be achieved for everyone.

On the PSR’s plans for APP scams protections, Chris Hemsley, Managing Director of the PSR says:

'We want to make it harder to commit these devastating crimes and also see victims properly protected.
'In this call for views, we set out a suite of measures that could have a significant impact on both reducing fraud and improving the protections for everyone. I look forward to hearing everyone’s views, to help shape our proposals.'

Consumer protections in interbank payments

In addition to APP scams protections, the PSR is also looking at the levels of protection available to consumers when they make payments from their bank account directly to another bank account using what is called an interbank payment method. More and more people are transferring money using a smartphone app or online banking to send payments to family and friends, or businesses.

As more of us make transfers in this way, the PSR is keen to understand whether the protections currently in place are sufficient. People and businesses should feel confident when they are making a payment and the PSR is therefore exploring how it, together with the industry, can ensure that consumers and businesses are not disproportionately harmed when something goes wrong with their interbank payment.

Chris Hemsley says:

'The UK is a world-leader in payments and the move to digital payments is increasing. As it does, people will be looking for choice - but having choice should also mean having the right levels of protection.

'In this call for views, we want to understand what protections our banks and building societies should have in place and how we can support this emerging payment method for everyone’s benefit.'

The PSR is inviting responses to both calls for views and responses should be provided on both calls for views by 8 April 2021.

 

Media enquiries:

PSR press office – 0207 066 5874 or 0207 066 5431

psrpressoffice@psr.org.uk

Notes:

1. The Contingent Reimbursement Model code is the voluntary, industry reimbursement model designed to give protections to victims of APP scams. This is overseen by the Lending Standards Board.
2. UK Finance half-year fraud update data
3. Reimbursement is where a bank pays the victim back from its own money, while repatriation is where the bank has been able to recoup some, or all, of the victim’s money from a fraudster’s account.
4. Eligible victims include individuals, micro-businesses and charities who have fallen victim to an APP scam should be reimbursed. This does not include where it's actually first-party fraud (i.e. the 'victim' is complicit in the scam) or not a scam (e.g. a buyer-seller dispute).