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UK should tap open banking to take on card schemes – govt-commissioned review

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The UK should use open banking to provide retailers with an alternative to card payments and to improve “clunky” P2P bank transfers, says a new government-commissioned review.

Published alongside the chancellor’s Autumn Statement, the independent review into the future of payments – led by Joe Garner, former CEO of Nationwide Building Society – calls for a national payments vision and strategy to simplify a well-developed but complex environment.

Among the specific recommendations is a push to tap into open banking to offer retailers an “alternative payment journey” to Visa and Mastercard.

Says the report: “While the benefits of cards are greatly appreciated, we heard a high degree of dissatisfaction from merchants regarding what they perceive as increases in scheme fees since interchange fees were forcibly reduced by the regulators”.

In addition to calling for an alternative, the report urges the Payment Systems Regulator complete its work investigating these card scheme fees.

In a statement, Visa says: “We welcome competition and believe that putting customers first is critical – including tackling fraud, ensuring resilience, and delivering great payment experiences that power economic growth.”

Mastercard says: “ We continuously invest in the latest and most innovative payment technologies, including open banking, playing our part in supporting the UK’s role as a global payments leader.”

Garner also bemoans the “clunky” nature of P2P bank transfers, which requires users to enter account numbers and sort codes.

The UK recently closed a failed attempt to put a slicker consumer experience, called PayM. Rather than resuscitating this, open banking should be used to improve the experience, for instance by offering QR codes or unique URLs.

However, for open banking to take off for retail and P2P payments, the report says that consumer protections need to be improved with a minimum form of dispute resolution.

The government and Joint Regulatory Oversight Committee should also get an agreement of a commercial model for open banking “so that there is scope to invest in both infrastructure and consumer protection. Without sustainable financials, it is hard to see that open banking can thrive over the long term.”

Meanwhile, there should be a review of whether some regulatory requirements are being applied appropriately to fintechs and an effort to reduce complexity for smaller firms.

On protecting consumers, the review suggests the PSR conduct a review of the new APP fraud rules after 12 months and more ambitious government targets beyond 2024.

But, Strong Customer Authentication requirements could move away from detailed technical standards and for the FCA to supervise via an “outcomes-based approach”.

 

Source: Finextra

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