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Payments regulation is changing in Europe. This change is creating new opportunities for payment service providers. The second payment service directive (PSD2) responds to the evolving demands of customers.
The European payments market size is substantial and growing continually. For example, the European remittance market size is over €120 billion. The total amount of non-cash payments in Europe increased to over 122 billion in 2016. The total number of payment cards grew to over 1.5 billion in 2016. In relation to card transactions, in 2017, the 45 largest merchant acquirers in Europe processed 67.5 billion payments, from 10 million merchants, valued at €2.4 trillion.
What is an Authorised Payment Institution?
The Financial Conduct Authority, in accordance with Payment Services Regulations, defines an authorised payment institution as being any person, including a corporate entity, authorised as a payment institution and included by the Financial Conduct Authority in the Financial Services Register as an authorised payment institution. In the UK, the Financial Conduct Authority regulates authorised payment institutions.
Authorised Payment Institution (API) United Kingdom
Enabling you to gain access to 512 million consumers across Europe and offering payment services, including, payment accounts, payment processing, merchant acquiring and money transfer services.
HOW WE CAN HELP YOU
End-to-end authorised payment institution (API) licence application preparation. Full management of communication with the regulator until your licence has been issued.
Obtaining banking facilities
From helping you obtain safeguarding banking facilities to issuing cards and virtual IBANs, our service has your customer's needs in mind.
Full compliance support
We focus on your compliance so you can focus on your business and its growth. We offer 2 levels of compliance support packages to support you in areas including risk, compliance and auditing.
Full consulting support
Our partnership with you extends to consulting services, including legal, accounting, recruitment, business development, product development and market strategy.
OUR API LICENCING PROCESS. STEP BY STEP
Assessment & Suitability
We listen to you to understand your business, your customers and your requirements. If you prefer, we can meet you in person to discuss the above in more depth.
Planning & Execution
We advise you on your business requirements and agree a course of action. We advise you on the regulatory requirements, fees and timescales involved. We also offer a fast-track service.
We work closely with you in understanding your organisation and its processes. We project manage your application. Finally, we help you to submit your application.
Application Approval & Licence is issued
We hear back from the regulator who may have further questions. We prepare the response and manage communication on your behalf. Your application is approved and licence issued.
PAYMENT SERVICES YOU CAN OFFER
Payment & Account Initiation (AIS/PIS)
Our service extends beyond licencing and compliance. We spend significant time understanding our clients, their culture, ambitions and roadmap. We understand where they are and where they want to be and achieve. We help them achieve this transition. In addition to our above services, we help our clients with related and third-party services, to enable them to offer payment services smoothly.
With our authorised payment institution (API) licence authorisation service, we will discuss your requirements and the payment services you wish to offer. We will assess your business model, directors and senior management team, their experience and suitability as well as your governance (risk & compliance), operations, structure, business model and viability, to ensure that you will meet the regulator's requirements. Following our assessment, we will provide you with a realistic and honest assessment of application strength, as well as make our recommendations.
The authorised payment institution (API) requires careful planning and in-depth preparation. A large number of documents are required to be drafted for the authorised payment institution (API) application, including a business plan, a programme of operations, risk and compliance policy and framework, security procedures and policies, anti-money laundering etc. We are able to help you prepare all the required policies, procedures, and documents to ensure you achieve authorisation and avoid any delays in doing so.
FREE INITIAL CONSULTATION
PAYMENT SERVICES UNDER A PAYMENT INSTITUTION LICENCE
1. Services enabling cash to be placed on a payment account as well as all the operations required for operating a payment account.
2. Services enabling cash withdrawals from a payment account as well as all the operations required for operating a payment account.
3. Execution of payment transactions, including transfers of funds on a payment account with the user’s payment service provider or with another payment service provider. This includes, execution of direct debits, payment transactions through a payment card and credit transfers.
4. Execution of payment transactions where the funds are covered by a credit line for a payment service user. This includes, execution of direct debits, execution of payment transactions through a payment card or a similar, and execution of credit transfers, including standing orders.
5. Issuing of payment instruments and/or acquiring of payment transactions. An example of this is merchant acquiring.
6. Money remittance. For example, cross-border money transfer.
7. Payment initiation services. Under this model, a initiator I.e. as a payment service provider under the payment institution licence, you can, subject to the user's consent, take or iniatie a payment directly from the user's bank account and transfer the amount directly to the merchant's bank account, removing the Visa and Mastercard networks in the payment process.
8. Account information services. Under this permission, subject to the user's consent your consent is able to provide access to your accounts and view information such as balances, transactions, standing orders and Direct Debits for a given period of time.
Information to be included in the Authorised Payment Institution authorisation application:
1. A programme of operations.
2. A business plan including a forecast budget calculation for the first three financial years.
3. Evidence that you hold initial capital.
4. A description of the measures taken for safeguarding payment service users’ funds.
5. A description of the governance arrangements and internal control mechanisms, including risk management and accounting procedures.
6. A description of the procedure for monitoring, handling and following up security incidents and security-related customer complaints, including an incidents reporting mechanism which takes account of the notification obligations.
7. A description of the process for filing, monitoring, tracking and restricting access to sensitive payment data.
8. A description of the business continuity arrangements, including a clear identification of the critical operations, effective contingency plans, and a procedure for regular testing and reviewing of the adequacy and efficiency of such plans.
9. A description of the principles and definitions used by the applicant in collecting statistical data on performance, transactions and fraud.
10. A security policy.
11. A money laundering and countering terrorism financing policy.
12. A description of the structural organisation, including, agents, branches, and outsourcing.
13. Details of shareholders and their qualifying holding.
14. Details of directors and persons who are or will be responsible for the management of the company.
15. The legal structure of the company.
16. The address of the head office of the applicant.
PSD2 - THE SECOND PAYMENT DIRECTIVE
PSD2, or the Payment Service Directive 2, is an EU Directive (Directive 2015/2366) which sets requirements for businesses that provide payment services. It applies to banks, building societies, payment institutions, e-money institutions and their customers.
PSD aims to promote innovation within the payments sector. Furthermore, it aims to improve protection for consumers and make payments both safer and more secure.
The PSD2 directive came into force on 13 January 2018.
Its main objectives are to:
Contribute to a more integrated and efficient European payments market
Improve the level playing field for payment service providers (including new players)
Make payments safer and more secure
FINANCIAL CONDUCT AUTHORITY - THE UK REGULATOR
The Financial Conduct Authority in the UK regulates firms that provide regulated services, including, consumer credit, payment services, electronic money, lending, insurance and investment services.
If you wish to provide payment services in the United Kingdom you will be required to obtain the Authorised Payment Institution licence from the Financial Conduct Authority.
Another important thing you must do before making an application is to ensure you meet the regulator's conditions. For example, you will need to ensure that your management and people such as directors, must be located in the UK. You will need to demonstrate through your application that you have the appropriate resources to operate your business. This includes having sufficient financial, management, staff, and systems to manage your business.
The Financial Conduct Authority expects firms to meet a range a requirements before it allows them to provide regulated financial services. When an applicant firm submits an application seeking authorisation, the Financial Conduct Authority will review their business plans, risks, budget, resources, systems, controls and people.
INITIAL CAPITAL REQUIREMENT
The initial capital required for Authorised Payment institutions ranges from €20,000 - €125,000, depending on the payment permissions you wish to apply for under the authorisation application.
Payment accounts i.e. debit cards - €125,000
Merchant acquiring/payment processing - €125,000
Money remittance - €20,000
If you are authorised as a regulated financial service firm within a country inside the European Economic Area, you can provide your regulated services, as payment service provider or electronic money provider across the rest of the countries within the European Economic Area without requiring additional licences in those countries.
The EEA states are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus (Republic of), Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.
Accordingly, if you were regulated in the UK, you would be able to provide regulated services within the above countries without requiring additional licences in those countries. To achieve this, you would need to apply for a ‘passport’ to do so.
With passporting, you are able to set up a branch in an EEA state and/or provide cross-border services or advice.
Passporting is only available to authorised firms i.e. authorised payment institutions and electronic money institutions. It is not available to local-level or small firms such as small electronic money institutions or small payment institutions.
TIME FRAME TO OBTAIN THE LICENCE
The Financial Conduct Authority must make a decision within three months of receiving a complete application. In reality, it takes around 4 months to obtain the licence.