The PSR is the first dedicated economic regulator of payment systems in the world. We became fully operational in April 2015. We were set up by Parliament to make sure UK payment networks operate for the benefit of all users. Although the UK had one of the most advanced, well established and resilient payment systems in the world, there was a concern that the system did not place sufficient recognition on the needs of users.
Our vision is that payment systems are accessible, reliable, secure and value for money. We have 3 statutory objectives which we advance in respect of our work. In summary, these are:
- to ensure that payment systems are operated and developed in a way that considers and promotes the interests of all the businesses and people that use them;
- to promote effective competition in the markets for payment systems and services - between the operators of payment systems, firms who provide payment services and firms who provide the underlying payments infrastructure;
- and to promote the development of and innovation in payment systems, in particular the infrastructure used to operate those systems.
The PSR’s work programme and approach to date have been guided by a clear agenda and mandate that the government gave us when it set us up. Our priorities were to make access to payment systems easier, review the ownership and governance of payment systems, and facilitate collaborative innovation in payments where the industry was not doing that of its own accord.
We have made significant progress in each of those areas, albeit there is still a significant role to oversee implementation and to keep monitoring progress on various aspects. For example, connecting to payment systems is now quicker, easier, cheaper and open to more firms than when we started, the ownership of the payments infrastructure is no longer in the hands of the big banks, we established the payments strategy forum, which led to the new payments architecture now being developed, we required the introduction of confirmation of payee to combat fraud, and are working to maintain access to cash where it is needed.
It is now time to look to the future. As the sector, technology, the external environment and consumer demands continue to evolve, many new issues are arising which could impact payment systems and their users for decades to come. The Covid-19 pandemic has also had an impact on the speed and type of change, for example use of cash as a payment method has fallen and firms have introduced new ways of helping people make payments. The pandemic has also changed the future outlook for the sector and the wider economy.
In order to most effectively advance our statutory objectives, it is important that the choices we make about how to prioritise our resources, of just over 100 staff, are guided by a clear idea of the direction we are heading in, and the outcomes we are seeking to achieve.
That is why we are developing our first ever future strategy. The purpose of the strategy is to define clear outcomes that we want to see in the payments sector. This will ultimately require us to make certain choices on how to prioritise our work so we can continue to make payment systems accessible, reliable, secure and value for money in the most efficient way possible.
Building a PSR Strategy
We want to engage with all our stakeholders and hear your thoughts on what is most important for the future of payments. It’s very important that we build our strategy having listened to a broad range of views.
We plan to consult on a full draft strategy before the end of the year. However, we recognise the current constraints and pressures on firms brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic. We have therefore decided to adopt an alternative way to hear from you on the strategy over the coming months. This is designed to give you an easy way to shape our thinking on the strategy before we consult more formally.
Given the current restrictions on travel, social distancing measures and the uncertainty about how long certain measures will be in place for, we will predominantly use our digital channels and engage with shorter and less formal pieces of content such as blogs, think-pieces, infographics, videos and webinars.
Based on initial conversations within the PSR, the PSR Panel and with some stakeholders, we’ve decided to break down our engagement into three key themes that are coming through as particularly relevant to current issues in payments, and those that will drive future change. For each theme, we have identified a high-level target outcome:
How can the PSR promote a choice of payment methods that suits the needs and preferences of people and businesses?
Target outcome: The payments industry needs to be agile and innovative so that consumers can access the payment methods that work for them; not least during this time of big economic change.
What role does the PSR play to ensure that competition is effective at all levels of the payments chain?
Target outcome: Effective competition at all levels of the supply chain can protect people and businesses, with detailed economic regulation acting where competition is not enough.
How do we ensure that enough options are available to allow all people and businesses to make the payments they need and want to make?
Target outcome: All people and businesses should be able to make the payments they need and want to make.
The PSR is not the only authority with an interest or remit in these areas. We work closely with our colleagues in the FCA, Bank of England and HM Treasury for example, and will continue to do so throughout the development of our Strategy. We particularly note the Treasury’s Payments Landscape Review, which is looking at the overall payments landscape in the UK, and will help to inform the PSR’s strategy.
Over the coming three months we will publish a specific set of questions on each theme, along with a series of related content pieces to stimulate thinking and debate. Feedback can be shared informally, through our website, by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org, through more formal mediums such as letters, or simply by reaching out to us on through our contact centre on 03004563677, and one of the team will get back to you.
The launch of the engagement phase is the beginning of a three-month period in which we will invite comments and discussion on three main themes. We plan to launch themes throughout the period, but you will be able to contribute to all themes until the very end of the engagement phase in September.
After this engagement phase has closed we will gather all input and use it to inform a full draft strategy. This draft strategy will form the basis of a ‘formal’ consultation later in the year.
|29 July 2020||Launch of the engagement phase and the ‘Innovation & future payments’ theme|
|w/c 14 September 2020||Launch of the 'Competition’ theme|
|w/c 28 September 2020||Launch of the 'Choice and availability of payment methods’ theme|
|w/c 7 Sept -16 October 2020||Panel events, regional ‘virtual’ roadshows and ongoing engagement, with social media across all themes|
|End 2020 / Beg 2021||Consultation on the PSR’s draft strategy|
Call to action
Look out for updates on psr.org.uk, regular strategy email updates and follow PSR on social media to ensure you don’t miss anything, and send us your feedback to email@example.com.
If you don’t currently receive emails from PSR, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will add you to our stakeholder list.