Banks should start preparing for Payment Services Directive 2

20 September 2016

Less than 18 months to go before Payment Services Directive 2, one of the most disruptive regulations in the financial industry, kicks in. Stefan Dierckx, CEO of Projective, reflects on the regulation’s impact. 

Payment Services Directive 2 (PSD2) is a European regulation that forces banks to open up their account (so called Access to Accounts) and payment infrastructure to third party payment service provides (TPP’s). For banks, opening up their systems, granting access to competitor banks and other commercial players on the market, and potentially losing hard-earned touch points with their end clients is not an attractive scenario.

To my surprise, a large number of European banks seem to consider this new regulation as just another rule with which they need to comply. “We still have 18 months to go, the technical standards are not 100% complete yet, so what’s the rush?” is a common reaction on the forthcoming introduction of PSD2.

Banks that have spent some time working out the potential consequences and fully understand the impact of PSD2 on their banking model are actively working on their future offerings under the motto “Offense is the best defence”.

Payment Services Directive 2 in banking

This new dynamic that will begin to play out in January 2018 will not only create opportunities for disruptive FinTech players, but also for banks. Why wouldn’t banks be able to position themselves on the market with so called ‘consolidator services’ (accessing data from multiple competitor banks), optimising, and even extending, the use of their existing payments network? The fact is that banks can rely on a loyal customer base, large IT departments, and related budgets. This is a luxury that most FinTech startups don’t have. 

Banks with a clear digital strategy do not see PSD2 as the finish line – as they know the banking landscape will continue to change. They are preparing for an open API environment that is not limited to Access to Accounts and payment instruction processing. It’s only a matter of time before the banks are pushed into an Open Banking API model. 

However, banking services development over the past few decades has been focused on optimising transaction flows and digitising the back office paper-based administration. Front-end channels such as branch bank, home bank and banking apps have gradually been added to the architecture, creating even more complexity in the banking architecture. As such, implementing PSD2 services in this complex architecture is easier said than done. Solutions such as The Glue can help to reduce the complexity and prepare the bank for an Open Banking API model. But even with The Glue, the urgency remains. With less than 18 months to go, the clock is ticking.