Back to: Blog Author: Piotr Pawłowski Published on: November 1, 2023

Cross-Border Payments: How PSD2 is Breaking Down Barriers

Introduction

In today’s interconnected global economy, the ability to make quick, secure, and cost-effective cross-border payments is more crucial than ever. Whether it’s a business paying an international supplier, a worker sending remittances back home, or a consumer shopping online from a foreign retailer, the need for seamless cross-border transactions is ubiquitous. The Revised Payment Services Directive (PSD2), a landmark European regulation, has played a pivotal role in transforming the cross-border payments landscape within the EU. This article explores how PSD2 facilitates smoother and more secure cross-border payments, with examples to illustrate its impact.

Understanding PSD2

PSD2, which came into effect in January 2018, is a European regulation that aims to create a more integrated, competitive, and innovative financial services industry. It mandates banks to open up access to their payment services and customer data to third-party providers (TPPs), subject to customer consent. This open banking framework has paved the way for enhanced competition, innovation, and efficiency in payment services, including cross-border transactions.

Facilitating Smoother Cross-Border Payments: The Role of PSD2


Open Banking and API Access
One of the key provisions of PSD2 is the requirement for banks to provide access to their payment services via Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). This has enabled TPPs, including FinTech companies, to develop innovative payment solutions that facilitate smoother cross-border transactions. For example, a business in Germany can use a payment initiation service (PIS) provided by a FinTech company to pay a supplier in France directly from their bank account, bypassing traditional banking channels and reducing transaction times.
Enhanced Security
PSD2 has introduced stringent security requirements for electronic payments, including cross-border transactions. One of these requirements is Strong Customer Authentication (SCA), which mandates multi-factor authentication for electronic payments. This enhances the security of cross-border transactions, reducing the risk of fraud. For instance, when a consumer in Spain makes an online purchase from an Italian retailer, they might be required to authenticate the transaction using two of the following: something they know (e.g., a password), something they have (e.g., a mobile phone), and something they are (e.g., a fingerprint).
Reduction in Transaction Costs
PSD2 has contributed to a reduction in the costs associated with cross-border payments. By fostering competition and enabling non-bank entities to participate in the payments ecosystem, the regulation has put downward pressure on fees. For example, a worker in Portugal sending remittances to their family in Poland can now choose from a variety of payment service providers, finding the one that offers the most competitive fees.
Faster Transaction Times
The open banking framework of PSD2 has also contributed to faster cross-border payment transaction times. Traditional cross-border transactions could take several days to process, but with PSD2-compliant services, transactions can be completed in near real-time. For example, a freelancer in the Netherlands invoicing a client in Belgium can receive payment within minutes, improving cash flow and financial stability.
Increased Transparency
PSD2 has introduced requirements for increased transparency in payment services, including cross-border transactions. Payment service providers are now required to provide clear information about the costs, exchange rates, and processing times of transactions. This transparency empowers consumers and businesses to make informed choices about their cross-border payment options.
Enhanced Consumer Rights
In addition to facilitating smoother and more secure cross-border payments, PSD2 has also enhanced consumer rights. For instance, in the case of unauthorized cross-border transactions, consumers have a right to a refund. Additionally, PSD2 has introduced new dispute resolution mechanisms, providing consumers with additional avenues for redress in case of issues with their cross-border payments.

Conclusion

PSD2 has been a game-changer in the realm of cross-border payments within the EU, breaking down barriers and fostering a more integrated, efficient, and secure payments ecosystem. By enabling open banking, enhancing security, reducing transaction costs, speeding up transaction times, increasing transparency, and enhancing consumer rights, PSD2 has significantly improved the cross-border payment experience for businesses and consumers alike. As the financial industry continues to evolve and embrace the opportunities presented by PSD2, the future of cross-border payments looks brighter and more promising than ever.

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