Hannah Nixon's keynote speech - Annual Plan 2018/19 launch event

21/03/2018

Hannah Nixon’s speech at the launch of the PSR's Annual Plan 2018/19 event at the Glaziers Hall, London Bridge, on 21 March 2018.

This is the text of the speech as drafted and may differ from the delivered version.


Good afternoon to you all and thank you for joining me to launch our Annual Plan for 2018/19, for what I hope will be an interesting and interactive event.

In the last three years, we have delivered landmark changes and are making good progress across a number of critical issues in the payments industry.

Today, I want to reflect on the last year and give you an overview of the role we played in shaking up the market to create a more enabling environment for competition and innovation. And I’ll also look forward at what we have planned.

Later this afternoon, you’ll have the opportunity to share your views on the work we’ve done so far and to feed into the strategic issues we’ll be focusing on over the coming 12 to 18 months.

We are determined to be the type of a regulator that listens, reflects and takes proportionate action.

Since last year’s event, we’ve engaged with you in various ways through bilateral meetings, roundtable discussions, consultations, panel events and our roadshows in Leeds, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast.

We’ve listened to your views and have taken them into consideration when drawing up our programme of focus for 2018/19.

We couldn’t do our job well without your feedback and I look forward to what I’m sure will be lively discussions today.

But that’s not where our engagement ends.

Our door is always open and we will, of course, continue to engage with you through consultations, roundtables and our regional visits. 

Our role

Our role is fundamentally about shaking up the industry to drive competition and innovation in a way that benefits all users of payment systems, and ultimately end consumers.

I’m pleased to say that I think we’ve been pretty successful at shaking things up.

We’re seeing new players enter the market and lots of interesting innovation.

Indeed, it’s often said that there will be more change in payments in the next five years than there has been in the last 50!

While that brings many benefits in terms of choice, reliability, cost, control and speed, it also has downsides such as new ways to defraud people or the difficulties associated with shifting market dynamics.

As a result of these new issues, we’ve increasingly focused on consumer protection - in the first instance primarily looking at the issue of mitigating authorised push payment (APP) scams and maintaining the current geographic spread of the free-to-use ATM network.

So, what will we be focussing our attention on in the coming year?

Consumer protection

Consumer protection is really going to take centre stage this year.

We know that the work we’ve been doing, new technology and changing consumer expectations mean that we’re seeing lots of new payments products and companies in the market. 

That’s great, but we need to ensure that consumer protection keeps up.

APP scams

Preventing fraud has always been firmly on our agenda.

Indeed, developing initiatives relating to the prevention of financial crime was a key area of focus for us through the Payments Strategy Forum, which I’ll say more about a bit later.  

For the last year, we’ve prioritised work on authorised push payment scams where a fraudster tricks someone into sending money to them.

We know this is a serious issue. £236 million was lost to authorised push payment scams last year. The majority, 88 per cent of this total, was individuals losing an average of £2,784, and the remainder were businesses who lost on average £24,355 per case.

We know that in some cases, the amounts of money lost can be life changing.

That’s why we’re working hard to put in place a package of measures to make it as difficult as possible to perpetrate this type of scam and to raise the chances of someone getting their money back if they do unfortunately fall victim to this type of crime.

There’s no silver bullet here but, taken together, our package of measures should put a serious dent in APP scams.

Some of these measures are already in place.

For example, we have pushed UK Finance to develop a best practice standard for PSPs to follow when responding to reports of APP scams; which means victims get a single point of contact rather than being pushed from pillar to post.

While the industry initiatives being worked up are incredibly helpful, we believe the real key to stopping scammers will be getting the contingent reimbursement mechanism in place.

We consulted on this last year and the responses we received support our view.

Prevention is the best approach to dealing with scams and the contingent nature of the model should incentivise customers and banks to do all they can to prevent scams from occurring in the first place.

Where scams do still unfortunately occur, we expect banks to take responsibility and reimburse victims where the banking system has fallen short.

We’re clear that we want a new industry code setting out the principles underlying the reimbursement model to be in place by the end of September -  that’s 6 months from now.

We’ve set up a steering group led by an independent chair appointed by us, which has clear terms of reference to make this happen.

The steering group has some tricky issues to navigate but we’ve been clear that the end product must be objective and ensure a straightforward process for victims.

ATMs

Another top priority for us in the space of consumer protection is access to ATMs. In an industry that is changing so rapidly, keeping the interests of everyone who uses payment systems front and centre is a priority for us.

We know that cash is an important payment method accounting for more than 40% of all payments made by consumers.

We also know that around 2.7m people in the UK rely solely on cash and that consumers value highly the widespread network of fre