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Payments – A Round-Up of Recent News

Unsurprisingly, the run-up to the UK referendum vote on 23rd June and its subsequent implications both within the UK and abroad have dominated both domestic and international headlines for the past month. As such, it has been easy to overlook a number of events in the Payments space that have quietly taken place during this time.   This post briefly summarises some of the most noteworthy of these and then covers the launch of the Strategic Consultation from the UK’s Payment Strategy Forum:

  • On 23 May 2016, the UK Treasury extended its designation of Recognised Payment Systems under S185 of the 2009 Banking Act by issuing a Recognition order over LINK (the UK ATM Network Operator). This followed the formal demerger of LINK from Vocalink at the beginning of April 2016 and brings LINK formally under Bank of England Financial Stability Supervision alongside Bacs, CHAPS, FPS and Visa Europe.   Cheque and Credit Clearing remains out of scope at this point.
  • On 20th June, the Bank of England announced the extension of the CHAPS and CREST Settlement Day through to 6pm (an extension of 1hr and 40 minutes beyond that which had been in place for the previous 20 years). This has been achieved by, in turn, the Bank of England extending the Operating Hours of its Real Time Gross Settlement System and thereby extended the UK Clearing Day by the same amount. The Bank has made it clear that it wishes Direct Participants in both CREST and CHAPS to pass on the full benefits of this change to their customers which, in the case of CHAPS, could reduce the number of failed housing completions given there is more time for funds to be safely transferred on the day a house purchase completes.   Further details can be found on the Bank of England’s Website at http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/markets/Pages/paymentsystem/extending.aspx.
  • Staying with the UK Payment Systems, on June 30th, Faster Payments announced that a fifth Technical Aggregator had passed the Technical Accreditation process as part of their Open Access initiative. At the same time, Faster Payments announced that Direct Participation in FPS was due to double by the end of 2017 with four participants due to join this year. Further details about these announcements can be read here.
  • Turning to broader regulation, on 29th June, the BIS Committee on Payment Systems and Market Infrastructures published enhanced Guidance on Cyber Resilience for Financial Market Infrastructures following an earlier consultation towards the end of last year. This latest guidance is intended to be supplemental to the Principles for Financial Market Infrastructures published in April 2012. Whilst the guidance is aimed at the broader Financial Market Infrastructure community, its impact is likely to be felt at both international and domestic payment system level given the majority of Central Banks utilise the CPMI Core Principles as a basis of their Financial Stability Regulation. The announcement backing the publication can be read here.
  • Moving onto payments strategy, on 1 June, the European Payments Council announced the publication of an updated Edition of its White Paper on Mobile Payments. This is for Consultation (with comments requested by 1 September 2016) and represents a substantive update from the last version published in 2012 given the technological developments that have taken place since then.   The announcement can be accessed here and the paper can be downloaded from a link at the bottom of that page.
  • On June 16, Payments Canada (formerly Canadian Payments Association) published a research report analysing commonalities in the modernisation approaches to Payment Systems across 27 countries.   The announcement can be accessed here.

The most substantive announcement with respect to Payments Strategy came on July 13, when the UK’s Payment Strategy Forum (which was created by the Payment Systems Regulator in Q3 2015) issued its Consultation on how the structure and form of the UK Payments Industry should evolve so as to be “responsive to user needs”.   The consultation runs until September 14th, is wide-ranging in its recommendations and can be accessed here.

In brief, the report contains the recommendations arising from four different Working Groups under the Payment Strategy Forum; User Needs, Simplifying Access, Financial Crime and Horizon Scanning.   In turn, these Working Groups took under their respective wings a series of “detriments” that had been identified within the broader Payments Stakeholder community and set out firstly validating these and then determining possible means of addressing them.

The resultant recommendations were then brought back to the Forum and consolidated in the report. Key recommendations include:

  • Movement to a common messaging standards and APIs across the UK Payments Industry.
  • The inclusion of enhanced data within the Payment messages and the creation of a single repository to retrospectively hold payment messages for fraud analysis purposes.
  • The use of enhanced identity mechanisms (including the ability to validate that the payment is going to the intended recipient).
  • A move to create more flexible payment solutions (including Request to Pay)
  • The consolidation of three of the Retail Payment Systems (at a Governance and Rules level) to simplify access for new market participants.
  • The creation of a simplified payment platform on top of which overlay services (such as Account Switching) would rest.

The Payment Strategy Forum and the Payment Systems Regulator are keen for the Consultation to be extensively reviewed across the breadth of the Payments Community and, having personally participated in one of the Working Groups, I would encourage all readers of this Post to download the report and provide objective feedback back to the Forum.