The Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) has published its Annual Report and Accounts for 2019/20, which details its activity over the past financial year.

In 2019/20, the PSR has driven and supported important steps forward in the development of the UK payments markets: 

  • in tackling payment scams,
  • helping protect people’s access to cash both now and in the future,
  • in supporting the development of a new interbank payment system,
  • and in continuing to promote competition and innovation in payment systems.

Chris Hemsley, Managing Director of the Payment Systems Regulator, said:

“These achievements have been the product of hard work over a number of years, with the PSR working collaboratively with a range of stakeholders. Whether helping to prevent fraud or protecting access to cash for vulnerable consumers, we have worked to ensure the payments systems people rely on deliver good outcomes now and in the future.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has presented challenges for everyone and we have all had to rethink the way we do things. At the PSR, we have focused our work on our key projects, including on cash access, fraud and the renewal of our interbank payment systems, so that we protect people now while supporting improved outcomes in future.

“The PSR’s work has never been more important. As a regulator with a focus on the future, the decisions we take must be right, not just for now, but for five and ten years’ time. Developing our long-term strategy, will mean we are fit to face whatever the future brings."

Key projects in 2019/20

The regulator has supported important measures designed to reduce the effect on consumers of authorised push payment fraud, including the implementation of the Contingent Reimbursement Model (CRM) Code and Confirmation of Payee. Preventing fraud and protecting victims has remained a key priority for the PSR throughout 2019/20 and the regulator will continue its work driving good outcomes for consumers and businesses.

The PSR has also acted for people who want or need to use cash in an increasingly digital age. Since its last annual report, the regulator has been a leading voice in the debate on cash, taking steps to ensure people can access it in ways that work for them. Its work with industry and other authorities - particularly ATM-network operator LINK and the Joint Authorities Cash Strategy group - has supported the introduction of community-led engagement schemes to understand and respond to people’s needs. 

Promoting innovation in payment systems has remained a core focus for the PSR in 2019/20, with its work on the UK’s New Payments Architecture (NPA). By modernising the way UK interbank payments operate, the NPA has the potential to make them even more resilient while stimulating competition and innovation, offering everyone the benefits of new and improved payment services. To make sure its expectations are met, the regulator has continued to examine and analyse the detail of Pay.UK’s work developing and delivering the NPA.

During the year, the PSR has continued its market review of the supply of card-acquiring services, to find out if this essential area of card payments is working well for merchants and, ultimately, consumers. It has gathered evidence and information from a range of stakeholders and plans to publish its interim report in Q3 2020, followed by a period of consultation and stakeholder engagement before it issues its final report.

Developing our organisation

As an organisation, the PSR has continued to build its capability and skills: welcoming a number of new payment, legal and policy specialists, including a new Head of Policy, Genevieve Marjoribanks. 

Remaining small by comparison to its remit, the PSR continues to ensure that the UK’s payment systems deliver good outcomes to businesses and consumers, including through competition and innovation.

The year also saw the appointment of Chris Hemsley as the permanent replacement for the outgoing Managing Director, Hannah Nixon, in September 2019.