The UK’s Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) has published its proposed new five-year strategy , open for consultation until 10th September.

The BRC have been calling on the PSR since its inception to ensure effective measures to protect business and consumer end-users from anticompetitive card payment fees and card scheme abuses of their market dominance. Most recently the BRC have coordinated a joint call for action from a spectrum of business organisations, and produced a “Thirty Years of Hurt” overview of the situation shared with selected Parliamentarians – around 40 of whom have subsequently contacted the PSR to call for effective remedies to excessive card costs and fee increases.

As a strategy, the PSR document sets out a broad approach but focuses heavily on interbank payments which currently account for a negligible share of retail payments. The most encouraging signals lie in the PSR’s third of four priorities (from page 56 of the document) to promote competition in markets and protect users where that competition is not sufficient, including a) between payment systems within the UK and b) in the markets supported by them. Under this priority the PSR will “consider the need to regulate in order to protect consumers and businesses if other measures are not producing the competition outcome we seek” – after 30 years of uncompetitive outcomes, how much longer does the PSR need to consider regulation to protect consumer and businesses I wonder?

The PSR claim to be shifting their focus to supporting and developing interbank systems to provide greater competition and then promoting competition between payment systems. This isn’t a new approach from the Government or the Regulator, but it is an approach that hasn’t yet yielded any material benefit.

BRC members are invited to share their feedback to the PSR Strategy consultation with