On 29 March 2022, the Payment Systems Regulation (“PSR”) published its annual plan and budget for 2022/23 alongside a related factsheet.

Setting out a summary of the PSR’s key aims and activities in 2022/23, the plan also forecasts the PSR’s expected operating costs.

Overall, the PSR believes that the UK payment systems are working well. However, the plan identifies issues that need to be addressed in the evolving payment landscape. This includes the prevalence of authorised push payment (APP) fraud, risks to effective competition and the need to support the payments sector to deliver new and improved services. There will be further challenges as global events impact the costs of living.

The PSR has identified a number of priority areas where it will focus its work in order to achieve its desired outcomes. These priority areas are:

  • Protection. The PSR wants to enable people to make and receive different kinds of payments safely and confidently. This means stopping scams from happening and better protecting people if they do fall victim. In recent years, the PSR has made great strides in protecting people from fraud, including its work to introduce Confirmation of Payee (CoP) and a code for reimbursing the victims of authorised push payment (APP) scams. Going forward, the PSR is consulting on requiring banks to publish their own APP scam statistics, enabling banks to be compared to competitors and it is now preparing for proposed legislative changes that will allow the PSR to require banks to reimburse victims who haven’t done anything wrong.
  • Competition. This improves outcomes for people and businesses by stimulating innovation, improving services and lowering prices. Sometimes the PSR takes action that is very direct and focused on a specific problem, for example, a fine of £33 million issued to five companies for cartel behaviour in the prepaid card market. Following its market review of card-acquiring services, the PSR is looking at ways for merchants to easily compare and switch providers. The PSR is actively monitoring Pay.UK’s delivery of the New Payments Architecture programme to ensure that it will encourage competition and innovation.
  • Unlocking account-to-account payments. Account-to-account payments are direct transfers from a customer’s account to a retailer’s account that do not involve a debit or credit card. Making these payments a realistic alternative for shoppers should ensurecard systems more competitive. Laying the foundations to encourage these types of payment is important.
  • Access and choice. It is essential that there is an effective choice of payment options, including both cash and digital payments. The PSR has been working with the FCA to ensure that cash, and the infrastructure that supports it, remains available to those who need it. This joined up approach with the FCA reflects the links between their separate roles – the FCA’s role in supervising bank branch closures, and the PSR’s role in overseeing the LINK ATM network. The PSR is also considering what might unlock digital payments for more people and businesses, including commissioning the PSR Panel to explore the issue. The PSR is also providing the regulatory framework for potential new payment systems, such as crypto-based options, which it may regulate in the future.

The PSR values the conversations it has with stakeholders and in 2022 will be organising stakeholder engagement opportunities in the form of workshops, roundtables and webinars. It will publish an annual report on how it has performed against its plans for 2021/22.