A year in review: PSR publishes its Annual Report for 2015 and 2016
- Report charts the regulator’s activity during its first operational year.
- Research commissioned by the regulator highlights a positive start, but more to be done over coming year.
The Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) has today published its 2015/16 annual report, which reviews its work during its first operational year.
The report highlights how the regulator delivered its promised strategic activity and how, through a range of activities, met its statutory objectives of promoting competition and innovation in the payments industry for the benefit of its users, both now and for the future.
Hannah Nixon, Managing Director, Payment Systems Regulator, said:
"Our first operational year has been a busy one. We have taken significant strides in delivering the important work we were created for; making payment systems work well for the people and organisations that use them. Our statutory objectives laid out the framework for where we are heading and has guided our programme of work and the culture of our organisation.
"We’re the only payments regulator in the world and, as such, we are continually breaking new ground and carving out our own path in order to successfully deliver our objectives.
"It has been an ambitious programme of work, but we have risen to the challenge and are committed to building on these strong foundations over the coming year."
Among the notable achievements during a busy inaugural year, the report covers the PSR’s two market reviews. These examined the structure and ownership of payments infrastructure, and how new and smaller payment service providers access payment systems. The regulator expects to publish its final reports and recommendations over the coming months. (1)
Hannah Nixon continued:
"Our market reviews are a good example of how we are working to change the mind-set of the payments industry by encouraging more open access, both direct and indirect, to the UK payment systems and adopting an approach which always takes users’ interests into account.
“Over time, the work we do will create more opportunities and incentives for technology companies and help the retail banking sector to become more innovative. This, in turn, will ultimately give consumers more choice and flexibility in the way they manage their finances.
"The work we have done this past year demonstrates the versatility to our approach. In places we have been interventionist and taken decisive action where it has been needed, in others, we have helped the market to help itself, favouring to adopt an approach based on co-operation and cohesion with the industry."
One of the most significant innovation-specific actions the PSR took in its first year was to establish the Payments Strategy Forum and the Payments Community. The Forum is the first group of its kind to be introduced by a UK regulator. It brings together organisations from across the payments industry to explore areas where the conditions for innovation can best be generated by collaboration, rather than through competition or regulatory intervention.(2)
Hannah Nixon, continued:
"Our goal is to build for the future by encouraging innovation, competition and service standards that will help the industry to grow and develop in the long term.
"We aim to raise the level of debate in the industry so that we better serve the users of payments systems, both now and in the future. The Forum will play a large part in that, and will shortly publish its draft strategy for achieving these aims."
Alongside the annual report, the PSR has published the findings of a survey conducted by independent researchers BritainThinks. The survey was commissioned in the early part of the year and gathered feedback on the PSR and the state of the payments industry from 130 stakeholders across the sector.
While the respondents broadly endorsed the regulator’s overall role, its approach and its professionalism, the survey did also highlight some areas that the PSR will work to improve.
Speaking about the survey, Hannah Nixon, said:
"We wanted to know how relevant organisations think we’re doing, so we can continue to improve our work as we grow as an organisation and as a regulator. Overall we were pleased with the level of engagement and response. The feedback was generally positive, but we recognise that there are areas of our engagement that we can and will improve."
You can find details of the independent survey by BritainThinks on the PSR website.
Notes to editors
The infrastructure market review is considering the provision of infrastructure services for the three main interbank payment systems (Bacs, Faster Payments and LINK), and the ownership of infrastructure providers. The indirect access market review is looking at whether market conditions support effective competition, focusing on choice, service quality and the ability of indirect PSPs to switch providers.
The Forum was created to develop a strategy for innovation where the industry needs to work together. It includes a wide range of interested parties, to ensure the right input and representation. Its chair is appointed by the PSR and independent from industry. The PSR provides the secretariat for the Forum and will intervene if its output doesn’t support its objectives. The Forum will publish its strategic priorities later this year.
The PSR was incorporated on 1 April 2014 and became fully operational on 1 April 2015.
The PSR has three statutory objectives: to promote effective competition in the markets for payment systems and for services provided by those systems, including between operators, payment service providers and also infrastructure providers, in the interest of service-users; to promote the development of innovation in payment systems, in particular the infrastructure used to operate payment systems, in the interest of service-users; and to ensure that payment systems are operated and developed in a way that considers and promotes the interests of service-users.
The PSR is the regulator and concurrent competition authority for payment systems in the UK and all participants in payment systems (payment service providers, operators and infrastructure providers to those payment systems).