What are payment cards and card payment systems?

A payment card is a card that can be used to withdraw money or pay for goods and services – for example a debit card, credit card, or prepaid card (a card pre-loaded with funds).

Card payment systems (or card schemes) enable people and organisations to make payments by card by providing a network that joins up:

  • cardholders, who use the cards as a way to make payments
  • issuers, which make payment cards available to cardholders
  • merchants, which are the retailers or service providers that accept card payments from cardholders
  • acquirers, the payment service providers which contract with merchants to accept and process card payments

The card payment systems that currently operate in the UK are:

The Interchange Fee Regulation (IFR)

The PSR is the main competent authority for the monitoring and enforcement of the UK Interchange Fee Regulation (IFR), monitoring compliance with all provisions of the UK IFR including caps and business rules. 

The IFR mainly imposes requirements on payment card schemes and issuing and acquiring PSPs.  Following EU Withdrawal, the onshored IFR is now retained UK law, which applies in the UK as amended by the Interchange Fee (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019. Consumer cross-border card payments between the UK and EU (or any other third country), where either the acquirer or issuer is based outside the UK’s jurisdiction, are no longer subject to the interchange fee caps established under either UK IFR or EU IFR.  

The Treasury designated us as the lead competent authority for the IFR in the UK in the Payment Card Interchange Fee Regulations 2015. 

Find out more

Click the links below to learn more about the IFR and how it affects people and businesses.

The IFR - what, why and how

How the IFR affects retailers

What the IFR means for consumers