Latest Payments News: HM Treasury Appoints Open Banking Tsar To FCA Board, and more

Kat Pilkington


February 19, 2024

Catch up on six of the stories our payments compliance analysts have covered lately, and stay up-to-date on the latest news.

HM Treasury Appoints Open Banking Tsar To FCA Board

The economic secretary to the treasury, Bim Afolami, has appointed Bryan Zhang to the board of the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) on an initial three-year basis.

Zhang has previously served as chair of the Strategic Working Group for Open Banking.

He is also co-founder and the executive director of the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance (CCAF) at the University of Cambridge Judge Business School.

"Bryan has demonstrated expertise in technology-driven innovation in financial regulation, which will be of significant benefit to the FCA Board,” said Afolami.

“Ensuring that regulation keeps pace with technological developments is crucial to supporting innovation and competition in the financial services sector, whilst also ensuring that consumers are appropriately protected.”

India To Study Offline, Programmable Payments In New Retail CBDC Pilot

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has announced that plans to launch a new pilot to study programmable and offline functionality using its retail central bank digital currency (CBDC), the digital rupee.

“Programmability will facilitate transactions for specific/targeted purposes, while offline functionality will enable these transactions in areas with poor or limited internet connectivity,” it said.

A digital rupee pilot is currently ongoing for person-to-person (P2P) and person-to-merchant (P2M) transactions, but it has not gained traction as expected.

Although the pilot was launched in December 2022, by October 2023, it was averaging only 25,000 transactions per day.

For the RBI to hit its daily transactions target of 1m by the end of 2023, Indian banks had to disburse salary payments to employees in CBDC, according to sources quoted by Reuters.

Philippines To Launch Wholesale CBDC Within Two Years, Says Central Bank Governor

Eli Remolona Jr, governor of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), has said the BSP plans to launch a wholesale central bank digitial currency (CBDC) within two years, but it will not run on blockchain.

Speaking to Filipino news outlet the Inquirer, Remolona said that “other central banks have tried blockchain but it didn’t go well”.

The BSP believes that wholesale CBDC has the potential to improve the efficiency, safety and robustness of domestic and cross-border payments.

Remolona said it could provide banks with another option, in addition to reserves, to deposit money with the BSP for use in real-time interbank payments and settlements.

For the time being, the BSP had no further details on retail CBDC. “The decision is to limit it to wholesale,” said Remolona, “no retail,”

FIS Brings Open Banking To US Through Partnership With Banked

FIS has announced that it has partnered with Banked, an open banking solutions provider, to bring new pay-by-bank options to businesses and consumers in the US.

The pay-by-bank solutions will allow payments to be sent between bank accounts within minutes with lower costs, enhanced security and improved user experience, said FIS.

As open banking matures in the US, FIS said it will be looking to introduce these solutions in areas such as insurance, higher education, utilities and public sector payments.

“Pay-by-bank solutions simplify payments by combining the benefits of real-time payment rails with the flexibility and efficiency of open banking,” the company said.

“Businesses benefit from less fraud, reduced friction, faster settlement and lower processing fees, while consumers enjoy a smoother payment experience, easier verification and faster access to funds.”

UK Government Further Embraces Open Banking With New Moneyhub Contract

A UK government agency has named Moneyhub as a supplier on its Open Banking Dynamic Purchasing System (DPS).

On Monday (February 12), the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) confirmed that Moneyhub will offer open banking and payment services to other UK public sector organisations through the DPS.

“Government organisations' ability to purchase Moneyhub services through the DPS will help more public sector services increase efficiency and experience the benefits that open banking delivers,” Moneyhub said in a statement.

Launched in January, the DPS aims to reduce payment acceptance costs in the public sector and reduce instances of fraud and error.

The Moneyhub announcement follows the news that HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) took in a record £3.3bn in open banking payments last month through Ecospend.

PayPal, Venmo To Process Crypto Distributions To Celsius Creditors

PayPal and Venmo have announced that they have begun processing crypto distributions to US-based creditors of Celsius, the crypto lending platform that emerged from bankruptcy last month.

To claim their crypto, creditors must enter a unique code provided by Celsius into PayPal or Venmo to receive distributions of Bitcoin or Ethereum.

Codes are tied to a Celsius account ID and if redeemed on one platform (PayPal or Venmo), the account ID is tied to that platform for this round of distribution.

As covered by Vixio, the Celsius bankruptcy ended with an agreement that Celsius will pay out $3bn in crypto distributions to creditors.

Since there may be additional rounds of distributions, PayPal has encouraged customers to check for further updates.

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