National protectionism threatens to derail Payment Services Directive - report

National protectionism threatens to derail Payment Services Directive - report

The forthcoming Payments Services Directive is unlikely to lead to an integrated and harmonised European payments marketplace within the next five years, as Member States use opt-out clauses to protect historical products, services and infrastructures, according to a new study.

The research, conducted among 350 payments professionals by the Financial Services Club on behalf of Earthport, BT and Logica, found that 58% of the sample believe the PSD is being transposed inconsistently, with 63% stating that this is because of different interpretations at the country level.

The report singles out German and Italy for adopting policies that seem to be actively blocking progress, while France and Spain are criticised for adopting delaying tactics.

The study's authors point the finger at the 23 Additional Optional Services (AOS) available to member states as they transpose the Directive into national law. Differing interpetations are leading to inconsistencies across Europe over how currencies are treated and whether they are in or out of PSD's coverage (the 'leg-in' / 'leg-out' issue); how small businesses are classified as consumers or corporates; how payment accounts are defined; how direct debit products are defined; and more.

"The Payment Services Directive is flawed in both its drafting and transposition," says the report. "Every country is using AOS to protect historical products, services and infrastructures.

"It is highly likely that 2012, when the European Commission review the transposition and implementation of the PSD, that a revised PSD will be drafted eliminating AOS and other anomalies, such as multilateral interchange fees on cross-border direct debits. The result is that the PSD will not support an integrated and harmonised European payments marketplace until 2013 or beyond."

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