Electronic Communications Exclusion (ECE)

When you might be offering a regulated payment service

In general, the Payment Services Regulations 2017 (PSRs 2017) require that anyone who provides payment services as a regular occupation or business activity needs to be authorised or registered by us. 

However, certain activities are excluded and certain bodies are exempt or otherwise entitled to provide payment services:

  • exclusions are listed in schedule 1, part 2 of the PSRs 2017 – we explain one of these below (the electronic communications exclusion)
  • exempt bodies are listed in regulation 3
  • regulation 138 lists all bodies that are entitled to provide payment services, some of which do not need our authorisation or registration e.g. credit institutions, the Bank of England and the Post Office Ltd)

A list of 'payment services' can be found in schedule 1, part 1 of the PSRs 2017. Examples of regulated payment services include the transfer of money between two parties (money remittance) and services enabling cash to be placed on, or withdrawn from, a payment account and operating a payment account for customers.

Chapter 15 of our perimeter guidance manual (PERG 15) provides detail on when a business might require our authorisation or registration (see question 9, the heading 'Exemptions and exclusions', and PERG 15.5). Our web pages and Approach Document provide more information to help firms understand whether they need to be authorised or registered by us.

What you should do if you think you might be offering a regulated payment service

You should apply to us for authorisation or registration, as required.

If you are in doubt, you should seek independent legal or compliance advice on whether or not your services are likely to constitute regulated payment services under the PSRs 2017. 

Electronic Communications Exclusion (ECE)

Under the Payment Services Regulations 2017 (PSRs 2017) and Electronic Money Regulations 2011, a provider of electronic communications networks or services ('a service provider') must notify the FCA if it currently provides or intends to provide a service  falling within the electronic communications exclusion (ECE).

See the direction for how this should be submitted.

The exclusion applies to all payment transactions resulting from services provided by providers of electronic communication networks or services for digital content and voice-based services, tickets or donations to charity which are charged to a subscriber’s bill, subject to transaction limits. The notification requirement applies only to the provider of the electronic communications network or service.

For more information on what constitutes an excluded activity, please see PERG 3A.5 and PERG 15.5.

Information required in the notification

If a service provider is operating, or intending to provide services falling under the electronic communications exclusion it must provide:

  • an initial notification including a description of that service
  • an annual audit opinion, testifying that the transactions for which the service is provided comply with the limits in the exclusion

Information provided in the notification will be displayed on the Financial Services Register.

When and how to notify

Service providers operating under the ECE must notify as directed. A service provider should read the direction in order to understand its notification obligations.

Service providers who are providing a service falling within the ECE prior to 13 January 2018 had to have submitted their notification by 13 January 2018.

If a service provider intends to operate under the ECE on or after 13 January 2018, then the service provider must submit the notification before the commencement of the service.

If a service provider is ceasing to provide excluded services, they must notify us no later than 10 business days after the cessation of services.

Please note that fees are payable for notifications. More information about the fees can be found on connect and the Fees Handbook (FEES 3 Annex 8R).

The ECE notification form should be submitted through Connect. Services providers will need to register to access Connect