Payment Services Directive II: ECON reading 17 December

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On 17 December, the ECON Committee of the European Parliament will discuss the draft report on Multilateral Interchange Fees (MIF) by rapporteur Zalba Bidegain. Prior to this reading, Ecommerce Europe sets out its view on the Payment Services Directive II (PSD II) and the MIF. Ecommerce Europe welcomes the proposals of the European Commission but warns against excessive regulation hindering merchants to provide cross-border online shopping services.

Ecommerce Europe welcomes the reform on the Payment Services Directive, proposed by the European Commission on 24 July 2013. PSD II updates the first Payment Services Directive (2007) and is meant to increase pan-European competition in the payments industry, including for non-bank service providers. These Third-party Payment Providers (TPPs) can accelerate product development and foster cross-border competition, contributing to a true Digital Single Market. It is for these reasons that online merchants embrace the reform of the Payment Services Directive. For consumers, more competition should make the payment process more transparent and result in less additional costs.

PSDII makes it possible for certified third parties to get access to the information of the payment account on behalf of the consumer. TPPs will try to expand their reach across Europe with simple standardized payment methods. It remains to be seen whether a plethora of TPPs will pop up and create a fragmented market for payments in which consumers and merchants cannot distinguish anymore between trustworthy and fraudulent payment services. Ecommerce Europe urges lawmakers to take this risk into consideration and to apply measures to prevent the emergence of fraudsters, but warns for an abundance of rules, as this could impede growth. The overall aim of any regulation on payment services should be to foster trust for online transactions and remove barriers that hinder cross-border sales.

The introduction of this new ‘class’ of payments should be accompanied by adequate communication by the third parties developing the services and by the issuing banks. Because if a fragmented market becomes reality, consumer trust in the e-commerce market could slip away which would be detrimental to the continued growth of e-commerce. We risk confusing the market if services are not positioned properly.

With regards to the Multilateral Interchange Fees (MIF), Ecommerce Europe believes that the interchange fee hinders competition and innovation. We call on Europe’s decision-makers to have the courage to stand up for a competitive, cost-efficient, secure and transparent payments market which will bring great benefits to the EU economy as a whole. The draft report under discussion tomorrow contains amendments that would perpetuate a system where all consumers – regardless of the method of payment – would end up paying higher prices for their goods. Furthermore, the amendments would allow schemes to continue to impose rules on merchants which they cannot negotiate.

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