Legal blockers & overview of access arrangements

As set out in the Settlement Finality Directive (art. 2b), only certain types of institutions - mainly banks - are eligible to open an account at the central bank and directly access payment systems. This narrow interpretation of who is eligible (which dates back to 1998!) is the current legal blocker for non-bank PSPs to directly access payment systems in the EU. However, it’s worth pointing out that some countries have found ways around this issue, including Hungary and the UK.

In addition, a CPMI (BIS) survey of central banks on access arrangements, which covered 184 payment systems reported in 76 jurisdictions, shows that there is a growing number of payment systems worldwide which are expanding or are considering expanding direct access to other types of participants, including non-bank PSPs. This is due to several factors including the changing mindset of central bankers, de-risking and an increasing interest from non-bank PSPs in gaining direct access to the payment system. For half of the payment systems in CPMI jurisdictions and more than one third payment systems in non-CPMI jurisdictions non-bank PSPs expressed an interest in becoming direct system participants (table 1).

Around 60% of payment systems reviewed would consider to expanding access within the next five years, with the aim of fostering innovation and competition. However, few payment systems currently have concrete plans to expand access (table 2).

The CPMI (BIS) report showcases how different countries, such as Brazil, India, Singapore, Switzerland and the United Kingdom facilitated direct access for non-bank PSPs to payment systems and succeeded in overcoming legal and regulatory, financial, operational and technical barriers. 

Importantly, the CPMI (BIS) states that “jurisdictions that have expanded their access policy, particularly to non-bank PSPs, did not report major negative impact to the structure or operation of their payment systems. However, next to a growth in transaction volumes, several payment systems reported increased need for help desk support and a rise in operational incidents (including cyber attacks) as an impact of a change in the composition of participants accessing the payment system.”