How to obtain the Payment Institution/E-money EMI / Electronic Money Institution license in Ireland

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This article looks at obtaining an Electronic Money Institution / EMI / E-money or Payment Institution license in Ireland. If you are planning upon offering payment services such as issuing debit cards, money transfer services, merchant services or electronic wallets and prepaid cards, you will need to apply with the Irish regulator, namely, the Central Bank of Ireland, before you can offer such services.

1. Regulations for Payment Institutions and E-money EMI / Electronic Money Institutions in Ireland

PSD2, or the Payment Service Directive 2, is an EU Directive (Directive 2015/2366) that sets requirements for businesses that provide payment services. It applies to banks, building societies, payment institutions, e-money institutions and their customers.

PSD aims to promote innovation within the payments sector. Furthermore, it aims to improve protection for consumers and make payments both safer and more secure.


2. The Irish regulator for Payment Institutions and E-money EMI / Electronic Money Institutions

The Central Bank of Ireland regulates firms that provide regulated services, including, payment services, electronic money, lending and investment services.

If you wish to issue electronic money services in Ireland, such as prepaid cards or electronic wallets, you will require an E-money EMI / Electronic Money Institution license from the Irish regulator, namely, the Central Bank of Ireland.

Another important thing you must do before making an application is to ensure you meet the regulator's conditions. For example, you will need to ensure that your management and people such as directors, must be located in Ireland. You will need to demonstrate through your application that you have appropriate resources to operate your business. This includes having sufficient financial, management, staff, and systems to manage your business.

The Irish regulator expects firms to meet a range of requirements before it allows them to provide regulated financial services. When an applicant firm submits an application seeking authorisation, the Bank of Ireland will review their business plans, risks, budget, resources, systems, controls and people.

3. The Payment Institution license in Ireland

A Payment Institution license enables a business to provide payment services across the European Economic Area.

By obtaining the Payment Institution license, a license holder is able to provide the following payment services:

i. Issue payment accounts such as payment debit cards

ii. Provider payment processing services

iii. Provide merchant acquiring services and acting as a master merchant

iv. Provide money remittance or money transfer services

4. Payment services you can offer under the PI/Payment Institution license in Ireland

Let’s look at the payment services a PI/Payment Institution license holder in Ireland is able to provide to its users in more detail.

1. Payment accounts. Examples of payment account include debit cards and payment cards. The user is able to place and withdraw cash on such accounts as well as use the account card to make a payment transaction, using the card to buy goods and services. Users are also able to set up direct debits standing orders as well as transferring funds.

2. Merchant services. Holders of the payment institution license are able to provide merchant services. This can include acting as a master merchant and offering merchants the ability to accept card payments.

3. Money remittance. Money remittance or transfer is another service payment institutions are able to offer. This service enables the payment service provider to enable users to make cross border payments, internationally.

​4. Payment initiation services. Under this model, an initiator I.e. as a payment service provider under the payment institution license, subject to the user's consent, is able to initiate payment directly from the user's bank account and transfer the amount directly to the merchant retailer’s bank account, removing the Visa and Mastercard networks from the payment process.

​5. Account information services. Under this permission, subject to the user's consent, a payment service provider is able to provide access to a user’s accounts and enable them to view consolidated account information in one place.

5. What is electronic money/e-money in Ireland?

As per Article 2(2) of Directive 2009/110/EC, “electronic money” or e-money means “electronically, including magnetically, stored monetary value as represented by a claim on the issuer which is issued on receipt of funds for the purpose of making payment transaction, and which is accepted by a natural or legal person other than the electronic money issuer”. Prepaid cards and electronic wallets are examples of electronic money.

6. E-money EMI/Electronic Money Institution license applications in Ireland

As part of your EMI/Electronic Money Institution E-money license application, you will be required to submit a number of documents, policies and procedures, including, a business plan, your safeguarding measures (how you will keep your client money separated and ring-fenced), your governance arrangements and risk management, your procedures for managing and handling security incidents and customer complaints, your security policy and your measures against financial crime, including AML. These policy and procedural documents must be specific to your firm and adequately address key aspects as set out by the regulator. Submitting templated documents will not be accepted and will cause delay, and potential rejection of your application. This is why it is important to prepare policies and procedures that are well thought-through and adequately address the regulator’s requirements and what it expects to see.

An important part of your E-money EMI/Electronic Money Institution license application is to ensure you meet the regulator’s basic conditions. Think of the basic condition as the basic requirements you must have in place. For example, your employees must be located in Ireland. You will need to demonstrate through your application that you have appropriate resources to operate your business. This includes having sufficient financial, management, staff, and systems to manage your business. Your team should be suitable and competent in their roles.

As part of your E-money EMI/Electronic Money Institution license application, you will need to provide details of your IT systems, including both core systems and any support systems. The regulator will expect to see that you have these in place before it issues your electronic money institution license.

7. Document preparation requirement for the EMI/E-money Electronic Money Institution license in Ireland

As part of your Electronic Money Institution E-money/EMI license application, you will be required to provide the following information as part of your application:

  • company identification details

  • programme of operations

  • business plan and financial forecasts

  • a description of your business’s organisation structure

  • evidence of your initial capital

  • your measures to safeguard funds of your users

  • your compliance & governance arrangements and internal controls

  • your procedure for monitoring, handling, and following up on security incidents and security-related customer complaints

  • your processes for filing, monitoring, tracking and restricting access to sensitive payment data

  • your business continuity measures

  • the principles and definitions applicable to the collection of statistical data on performance, transaction and fraud

  • security policy

  • your internal control mechanisms to comply with obligations in relation to money laundering and terrorist financing (AML/CFT obligations)

  • details of your qualifying holdings (shareholders)

  • details of any outsourcing arrangements

8. How to prepare a strong PI/ Payment institution or E-money EMI / Electronic Money Institution license application

You will need to demonstrate that you have your mind and management as well as operational setup and presence in Ireland. This means establishing a physical base, including a physical office.

​Furthermore, you must have adequate resources in place. This includes financial resources, i.e. possessing sufficient funds to manage and operate the business. You will be required to demonstrate that you have suitable and experienced management and employees to manage the business. Firms must also demonstrate that they adequate IT systems and internal controls to ensure the safety of payments and manage fraud adequately and effectively.

You must ensure that their business plan describes your payment activities and market plan and its execution. Your firm’s financial statements must adequately address your business lines of income, calculations of initial and ongoing capital requirements and provide financial forecasts for the first three years.

You must provide policies and procedural documents that clearly demonstrate that you understand your business risks. Firms should prepare a risk framework and address how they will mitigate their risks, including operational, security and money laundering risks.

9. Passporting under the Payment Institution and E-money EMI / Electronic Money Institution license in Ireland

If you are authorised as a regulated financial service firm within a country inside the European Economic Area, you can provide your regulated services, as a payment service provider or electronic money provider across the rest of the countries within the European Economic Area without requiring additional licenses in those countries.

The EEA states are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus (Republic of), Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.

Accordingly, if you were regulated in Ireland, you would be able to provide regulated services within the above countries without requiring additional licenses in those countries. To achieve this, you would need to apply for a ‘passport’ to do so.

With passporting, you are able to set up a branch in an EEA state and/or provide cross-border services or advice. Passporting is only available to authorised firms i.e. payment institutions and E-money EMI / Electronic Money Institutions.

10. How long does it take to obtain the E-money EMI / Electronic Money Institution license in Ireland?

The Central Bank of Ireland must make a decision within three months of receiving a complete application. In reality, it takes around 6 months to obtain the license.

11. Initial capital requirement for the E-money EMI / Electronic Money Institution license and Payment Institution license in Ireland

The following will apply with regards to the initial capital.

Electronic Money Institution - €350,000

Payment institution –

  • Payment accounts i.e. debit cards - €125,000

  • Merchant acquiring/payment processing - €125,000

  • Money remittance - €20,000

How we can help

Buckingham Capital Consulting is a leading international consulting firm, specialising in payment services, electronic money, banking and investment services. We are able to advise you on the best course of action and strategy based upon your business plan and financial product or service. We can help you with licencing, compliance, operational setup and related services, including, obtaining banking facilities. For more information, visit our website on www.buckinghamcapitalconsulting.com


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