We have published a report on direct access to payment systems and the governance of payment system operators in the UK.

The report summarises some of the progress payment system operators have made to create more open and flexible direct access to payment systems, and inclusive and more transparent governance.

These changes are driven by new requirements that we introduced earlier this year. These requirements, known as ‘directions’, require operators to act in a certain way, and are based on our objectives.

Update: An updated version of this report was published on 18 December 2015. The update provides clarification on the table at figure 7. On row 3 of the table we have removed the sentence: “For Bacs, CHAPS and FPS, their requirements on regulatory status mean that only banks can get direct access to their payment systems.” In fact a combination of factors - not just the operators’ requirements relating to a PSP's regulatory status - limit direct access by non-banks. These other factors are described elsewhere in the report.    

Why are we publishing this report?

Improving access to payment systems and making the governance of payment system operators more inclusive and transparent are key priorities for the PSR.

The paper shows how our work is helping to foster a more competitive payments sector. 

As well as highlighting progress made by operators, it notes that further improvements need to be made to remove further barriers to access and help those looking to offer payment services.

Who should read this paper?

This report is relevant to the operators of the payment systems, payment service providers accessing the systems and service users with an interest in the way the operators run them. 

What are the issues?

Many stakeholders have raised concerns that access requirements were not clear or fair and that payment systems were being operated for the benefit of the major banks. 

What does the report show?

The report summarises the information we received from operators showing how they are complying with the measures we introduced.  

The paper shows some significant improvements, including:

  • clearer and fairer information being provided to new applicants
  • faster times for securing access - one operator has said it significantly reducing its ‘onboarding’ time for new direct members
  • greater transparency on how boards of payment system operators make decisions
  • better representation of the payment systems users’ views during decision making

We also expect the number of PSPs who have direct access to payment systems to increase in the coming year.

But there are areas that operators must continue to focus on: 

  • making onboarding faster and simpler still
  • doing more to help smaller banks and PSPs that are not banks
  • never losing sight of the PSPs, businesses and people that rely on payment systems

Next steps

This is a good start and we are seeing progress across the board, but there is more to be done.

We will monitor developments closely in 2016 and welcome your views these issues. If you have any contributions please email: ContactUs@psr.org.uk

Other relevant information

We are conducting an in depth market review on indirect access and will be publishing an interim report in the first quarter of next year. Read the final terms of reference.

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