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UK watchdog takes on card schemes

UK watchdog takes on card schemes

The UK's Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) has put the card schemes on notice that it is investigating their fees and how to help merchants get better deals, including by promoting the alternative of account-to-account payments.

Setting out its plans for 2022/23, the PSR has again raised concerns about the "high card fees" that merchants pay to Visa and Mastercard, noting that they have risen "significantly" in recent years.

The watchdog says it has sent information requests about the levels and structure of these fees and will proceed based on the information gathered.

While considering the long-term approach, it could roll out short-term measures, including "price caps on scheme fees or cross-border interchange fees".

Meanwhile, the PSR is also looking to remove barriers to the uptake of A2A retail payments, which it says can provide a "credible" alternative to the card schemes.

It will investigate whether the commercial incentives for banks, intermediaries and merchants are there to support greater use of A2A payments and what it can do to increase uptake and promote competition with cards.

The PSR is also working with the CMA, FCA and Treasury on the future of open banking regulation, which will play a major role in A2A payments uptake.

Elsewhere, the regulator says it will work with other agencies to ensure people have access to cash and to develop guidelines and regulation on the cryptoassets, stablecoins and CBDCs. It is also working to tackle the rising threat of APP fraud.

Chris Hemsley, MD, PSR, says: "We’ll continue to act swiftly and decisively to make sure that consumers and businesses are protected, and to promote innovation and competition where it counts."

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Comments: (1)

Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune 04 April, 2022, 12:34Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Because of their lower interchange fees, Merchants have always loved A2A RTPs like PayByBank, PayM, Zapp. If A2A RTPs answer the long-pending question "What's in it for consumers to switch to them from credit card?", I'm guessing there will be no need for intervention by regulator to stimulate their adoption.   

UPI, India's A2A RTP blockbuster hit, answered that question with "ubiquity", which was driven by widespread availability of bank accounts compared to very low penetration of credit card and POS terminals (among other factors). But that positioning won't work in UK and other Western nations that have high penetration of credit card and POS.