New regulated services: payment initiation services and payment account services

Payment initiation (PI) services occur where a provider that is present as a payment option on a merchant’s platform provides a medium between a customer and their online payment account. The PI service provider captures account identification and security data relating to the customer and accesses their account for them, initiating a payment transaction to the merchant. 

The introduction of a permissive pan-EU framework for these services represents a very significant, even fundamental, change to the way in which payments can be processed, with the direction of travel potentially switching from merchants ‘calling’ for payments via a card scheme to PI service providers helping customers ‘push’ payments through to merchants using credit transfers.

The attraction to a merchant in partnering with these providers is that payments can be initiated from customers to the merchant, other than by the merchant (or its merchant acquirer) collecting and processing card network payments and so incurring acquirer charges. The attraction to the paying customer is that they do not need to have a credit or debit card; they just need a payment account that can be accessed remotely. While recognising the potential for competition and innovation that the payment initiation services bring, the EC acknowledges concerns over security, data protection and liability for payment transactions initiated through these services…

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