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New industry code to self-regulate indirect access to payment systems

Major UK banks have committed to a new industry code which will govern the way they facilitate access to payment systems for other payment service providers (PSPs).02 Sep 2015

The code of conduct for indirect access providers (18-page / 127KB PDF) is a voluntary framework that has been launched on an "interim basis", said Payments UK, the industry body behind the initiative. Indirect access providers are banks that have direct access to payment systems and who contract with PSPs to help those companies provide services using those payment systems too.

"The code sets out standards of best practice for key elements of the commercial arrangements between indirect access providers and indirect PSPs," Payments UK said. "The principal aim of the code is to improve the experience of indirect PSPs by clearly setting out the responsibilities of indirect access providers who have subscribed to the code (code subscribers) to indirect PSPs to whom they provide indirect access (code beneficiaries."

Payments UK said it had held discussions on the code with the Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) and would conduct a formal consultation on the code later this year. Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group and RBS have all committed to adhere to the code by 30 September, it said.

"The payments world has changed massively over the past few decades and this is an important development to support the growing number of payment service providers which access payment systems indirectly," Maurice Cleaves, chief executive of Payments UK, said. "In the coming months we will be consulting with payment service providers to get their feedback and working with the industry and the Payment Systems Regulator to develop the code further."

The PSR is currently conducting a market review in which it is assessing the way major banks facilitate other PSPs' access to payment systems. It recently asked PSPs to share with it any problems they have in accessing payment systems through sponsor banks.

In response to the new industry code initiative, the PSR said: "We welcome the code of conduct, which is a positive and significant step in the right direction towards improving access to payment systems. It shows the payments industry is committed to raising standards, particularly in making sure those that access payment systems indirectly receive a high quality ongoing service."

"The code sits alongside and complements the wider work we are doing at the PSR, such as our in-depth market review on indirect access, and the directions we have created to increase transparency and accountability," it said.