Italy Not Ready for PSD, Says Industry Players

Italy will not have fully transposed the Payment Services Directive (PSD) into law in time for 1 November launch date, according to key players in the Italian banking and payment services community at an industry event in Milan. Despite appearing to be on target according to the European Payments Council (EPC) website, the picture is “very patchy”, said Carlo Tresoldi, president of SIA-SSB, pinpointing contentious areas such as payment service provider (PSP) provisions (Title II), transparency of conditions (Title III), rights and obligations (Title IV), and final provisions (Title VI).

The delay of Italy and other national legislators in transposing the PSD is of great concern for industry players across Europe as they are suspended in limbo, to a degree, and this situation may not change in the near future. Tresoldi said that it would still take a long time for the directive to be fully adopted, adding that the EU regulators have indicated they will review the directive in 2012, with an eye to developing a PSD II the year after to fill the gaps.

Speaking to just over 500 participants at SIA-SSB’s fourth ‘Do You SEPA?’ conference entitled ‘Landing on the PSD Planet’, Tresoldi also highlighted the reality of implementing the directive heterogeneously, stating that Italy, for example, is still not clear on its national transposition path. “The current PSD implementation scenario is producing worrying forecasts in terms of the harmonisation objective,” he said.

Giampaolo Galli, director general of Confindustria, an organisation representing Italian manufacturing and services companies, agreed with Tresoldi’s points on the problems associated with differentiated national implementation. “Within the national implementation, we need to provide highly harmonised instruments because this will affect the benefits for corporates,” he said, adding that the main concern in Italy is that the industry will lose some its payments system functionality by moving to a European standard.

Issues plaguing the implementation of the single euro payments area (SEPA) schemes identified at last year’s event have continued this year, such as the lack of an end date for legacy instruments and the lag in public administration uptake. Implementing a ‘mini-SEPA’ is seen as a significant risk, particularly with a lack of effective commitment from the national governments, corporate and consumers, according to Tresoldi.

Franco Passacantando, managing director central banking, markets and payments system area, Bank of Italy, said that SEPA’s problems lie in the fact that the advantages have not yet materialised, mainly due to the lack of mass adoption. “The SEPA Credit Transfer scheme has only 4-5% uptake, which is far away from the 20% objective to be reached by December 2010,” he said. He also highlighted the slowness of public administrations to take up SEPA instruments, and added that the co-operation around common infrastructure was still very low.

“SEPA is no longer reversible, but we should be aware that it will take more time and cost more than originally thought,” he warned.


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