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30 Q&As about the Payment Institution license in the UK

What is a Payment Institution License, and why is it necessary?

A Payment Institution License is a regulatory authorisation required by the FCA for entities that provide payment services. It ensures compliance with regulatory standards and consumer protection.

How can I apply for a Payment Institution License in the UK?

To apply, you need to complete the FCA's application process, which involves submitting detailed information about your business, ownership, management, compliance systems, and risk management.

What are the minimum capital requirements for obtaining a Payment Institution License?

The FCA has specific capital requirements based on the payment services you intend to provide. For firms offering money remittance the minimum capital is €20,000, whereas firms offering payment initiation services will require a minimum initial capital of €50,000.

Can a foreign company obtain a Payment Institution License in the UK?

Yes, foreign companies can apply for a Payment Institution License in the UK. However, they must demonstrate their commitment to complying with UK regulations and have a physical presence or establishment in the country.

Which activities require a Payment Institution License?

Activities such as money remittance, payment initiation, account information services, payment accounts and payment processing will require a Payment Institution License.

Are there any exemptions from needing a Payment Institution License?

Some exemptions exist for specific activities or payment service providers. However, it's crucial to assess whether you meet the criteria outlined in the applicable regulations.

How long does it take to obtain a Payment Institution License?

The application process typically takes several months. You should expect somewhere in the region of 6-8 months, on average. The FCA assesses various factors, including your business model, compliance systems, and risk management framework.

Can I operate without a Payment Institution License?

No, operating as a regulated payment service provider without the appropriate license is a breach of regulatory requirements and may result in severe penalties.

Can a Payment Institution License be passported to other EU countries?

Yes, under the EU Payment Services Directive (PSD2), a Payment Institution License obtained in one EU member state can be passported to other member states to provide payment services without obtaining separate licenses.

Can I provide services to customers outside the UK with a Payment Institution License?

Yes, a UK Payment Institution License allows you to provide payment services to customers both within and outside the UK, subject to regulatory requirements.

What are the ongoing regulatory obligations associated with a Payment Institution License?

Once licensed, you must comply with the FCA's ongoing regulatory requirements, including conducting regular reporting, maintaining compliance systems, and adhering to anti-money laundering regulations.

How often are Payment Institution License holders subject to regulatory reviews or inspections?

The FCA conducts periodic reviews and inspections of licensed payment institutions to ensure ongoing compliance with regulatory requirements. The frequency of these reviews may vary based on risk assessments and the FCA's supervisory approach.

What are the consequences of non-compliance with the FCA's regulatory requirements?

Non-compliance with the FCA's regulatory requirements can lead to enforcement action, including fines, suspension or revocation of the license, and reputational damage.

Are there specific reporting obligations for Payment Institution License holders?

Yes, as a licensed payment institution, you are required to submit periodic reports to the FCA, including financial reports, compliance reports, and reports on suspicious transactions and fraud prevention measures.

Are there restrictions on marketing and advertising activities for Payment Institution License holders?

Marketing and advertising activities should comply with relevant regulations, ensuring they are fair, clear, and not misleading. You must also follow data protection and consumer privacy laws.

How can I ensure my business remains compliant with changing regulations after obtaining a Payment Institution License?

Staying compliant requires monitoring regulatory updates and implementing appropriate policies and procedures. Engaging a compliance consultant or maintaining contact with regulatory authorities can help you stay informed.

Can I use a trade name or brand different from the legal entity for my Payment Institution License application?

Yes, you can use a trade name or brand different from the legal entity, but you must ensure transparency and comply with the FCA's requirements regarding branding, disclosure, and consumer protection.

Can I offer insurance services under a Payment Institution License?

Payment Institution Licenses do not permit the provision of insurance services. Separate licenses or permissions may be required to offer insurance products or services.

How long is a Payment Institution License valid, and how can it be renewed?

A Payment Institution License is not granted for a fixed period of time.

Can a Payment Institution License be transferred or sold to another entity?

Transfers or sales of a Payment Institution License require regulatory approval. The FCA will assess the fitness and propriety of the acquiring entity and may impose certain conditions for the transfer.

How can I stay updated on regulatory changes and industry developments?

Subscribing to FCA publications, attending industry conferences, and maintaining active engagement with regulatory bodies can help you stay informed about regulatory changes and industry developments.

Are there specific training requirements for staff working in a Payment Institution?

Yes, it's essential to provide staff with appropriate training on regulatory requirements, compliance procedures, customer due diligence, anti-money laundering measures, and data protection.

Can I outsource certain functions or services as a Payment Institution License holder?

Yes, outsourcing is allowed, but you remain responsible for ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements and the appropriate management of outsourced functions.

What are the requirements for client funds safeguarding as a Payment Institution License holder?

You must have robust systems and procedures in place to safeguard client funds, ensuring they are kept separate from the firm's operational funds and held in designated client accounts.

Are there restrictions on the use of electronic money (e-money) under a Payment Institution License?

The use of e-money is subject to specific regulations, including the issuance, redemption, and safeguarding of e-money. Compliance with the Electronic Money Regulations is necessary.

How can I handle complaints from customers as a Payment Institution License holder?

Establishing a clear and transparent complaints handling procedure is crucial. You must address customer complaints promptly, fairly, and in line with the FCA's regulatory requirements.

Can I offer foreign exchange (FX) services under a Payment Institution License?

Yes, offering foreign exchange services is possible under a Payment Institution License. However, additional permissions may be required depending on the scope of your FX services.

What are the requirements for the storage and security of transaction data?

You must have secure systems and controls in place to protect transaction data, ensuring confidentiality, integrity, and availability while complying with data protection regulations.

Are there restrictions on providing payment services to high-risk countries or individuals?

Additional due diligence and enhanced monitoring may be required when providing payment services to high-risk countries or individuals, considering anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing obligations.

What steps should I take to ensure compliance with the FCA's requirements for financial crime prevention?

Implementing robust anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing procedures, conducting risk assessments, and ongoing monitoring of financial transactions are essential to ensure compliance.


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