Coronavirus (Covid-19): Our expectations of payment and retail banking firms

We are in regular contact with the industry, the Government and other regulators to understand the impact of coronavirus on the payments market.

Information on this page was last updated in 2020.

We expect firms to manage the risks to consumers and to provide support to consumers and businesses during these challenging times.

We have delayed or postponed work to enable firms to focus on this, and we are actively considering whether we should make further changes to regulatory or supervisory deliverables and expectations.

For more on the impact on strong customer authentication (SCA), please see the section on our SCA webpage for firms. This includes new information on contactless payments, e-commerce and online banking.

On retail banking, please see our statement on access to bank branches.

Safeguarding and prudential risk management

On 9 July, we published additional guidance to strengthen payment services and e-money firms’ prudential risk management and safeguarding arrangements. The guidance provides additional direction for firms to meet their requirements under the Electronic Money Regulations 2011 and Payment Services Regulations 2017, and it outlines our expectation of firms to put in place more robust plans for winding-down, so that customer funds are returned in a timely manner if firms fail. 

The payments sector is a priority area for us and the guidance is part of a broader programme of work that we were due to consult on later in the year. This was brought forward in light of the exceptional circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic. We still intend to consult more broadly on our expectations for the payments sector later in the year.

Cross-border payments regulation

The EU Commission issued a statement on 9 April which reminds payment service providers of the forthcoming application date of 19 April for currency conversion transparency requirements. It recognises that applying these requirements in the current circumstances linked to the coronavirus crisis may pose some challenges and understands that National Competent Authorities may consider the necessity to enforce the new rules in a flexible manner.

We expect firms to comply with the requirements where they can, and if not, to implement these obligations as soon as possible. However, we will take a reasonable approach towards enforcement of the implementation of the new rules in the light of the need to preserve the stability and continuity of online payment services. That may mean assessing the immediate need to meet the new transparency obligations against the risk of introducing non-essential risk or a significant reduction in a firm’s capacity to deliver frontline services to customers in the present circumstances.

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