The Payments Innovation Forum ("PIF") Code of Conduct ("the Code") is not intended to be a substitute for existing laws, rules and regulations and should not be construed as or used in place of legal or any other professional advice.
PIF is a not-for-profit industry body representing the payments sector. Our role is to support and champion innovation in payments by promoting the highest possible standards of practice and compliance, educating key stakeholders and facilitating the exchange of legitimate knowledge and experience to advance the success of the industry.
PIF members operate in a complex ecosystem where trust and openness are key to innovation. Our vision is that PIF’s work inspires legitimate confidence in the payments sector, free from hyperbole and knee-jerk reactions.
The pace and breadth of innovation in payments is accelerating. However, this acceleration can also result in poor practices that could reduce the confidence of customers, regulators and other payments market participants.
PIF already helps its members, whatever their role in the ecosystem, to avoid or remedy poor practice by identifying and developing best practice guidelines and enabling the sharing of information among members. This Code has been designed to provide high-level guidance to members who by virtue of being or becoming a member, share PIF’s commitment to preventing the rise of unwanted practices that could cause consumers, business customers and ultimately, the industry itself harm.
The PIF Code of Conduct is principles-based rather than prescriptive. This is to ensure that the Code can evolve with innovation and always remains focused on positive outcomes rather than processes. PIF members have an obligation to their customers, business partners and the industry as a whole to comply will all applicable laws, rules and regulations, treat customers fairly, and promote the highest possible standards of practice
Members agree at the time of membership, renewal of membership and during the term of membership to adhere to the principles of this Code.
This Code has been developed around a set of generic statements and in the context of the lifecycle of a payment product or service.
- Members undertake to fully comply with all applicable laws, rules and regulations including but not limited to all prevailing rules prescribed by the e-money regulations 2011 (EMRs) and payment services regulations 2017 (PSRs), or their own national equivalent, scheme rules, data protection rules and financial crime prevention legislation.
- Members undertake to fully comply with all supplementary instructions and directions issued by their regulator and their government departments.
- Where members operate internationally, they should pay close attention to the respective rules and regulations of each jurisdiction in which they conduct business as these can differ markedly from one market to another.
- Each member is individually and solely responsible for their compliance with applicable laws, rules and regulations.
- As a trade association PIF plays an important role in promoting members’ interests. However, if a trade association is used to create or encourage an infringement of Competition Law then both the association and its members can face serious consequences.
- Members should satisfy themselves that they have read and understood the PIF Competition Law Guidelines and that they are clear on what may constitute prohibited conduct.
All members should strive to establish best practice for their respective roles in the payments ecosystem by using all of the knowledge and technology available to them to ensure they reach the highest possible standards of practice and compliance.
The following section specifically applies to members involved in the supply, distribution, sales and marketing of products and services that are regulated under the EMRs and PSRs, or equivalent. The information provided in this section provides high-level guidelines that are not intended to supersede existing laws, rules and regulations.
Customer Account Acquisition, Application and Account Opening:
- The account application process for customers should be simple, accessible and timely.
- The products and services that members provide should only be targeted at relevant audiences and should positively exclude customer segments for whom the product is not suitable. Members engaged in cross-selling should keep in mind that products that are suitable for the target market may not be appropriate for all of the wider group of actual customers.
- Members should be clear on how they have identified if the product or service has features that could cause harm to vulnerable consumer groups.
- Marketing communications should be clear, comprehensive and truthful. For example, members’ marketing communications should not give the impression that a certain rate of exchange is available to customers if it is not likely to be available to them for a typical transaction.
- Features of a product or service must not be described as ‘guaranteed’, ‘protected’ or ‘secure’ unless the term is capable of being a fair, clear and not misleading description of it.
- Marketing communications should not give customers misleading impressions about the product or service. For example, by describing e-money regulated accounts as ‘bank accounts’ or suggesting that customer funds are protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme where they are not.
- Customers must be given a genuine opportunity to see important information before they apply or commit to apply for a product or service. Members’ marketing communications should equip customers with information that allows them to make effective decisions such as the way in which the product or service can be used and any other material information that the customer might need to make an informed choice.
- Marketing and customer communications must make clear how customer funds are protected and be explained in a way that customers are likely to understand.
- Marketing communications must not emphasise the benefits of a product or service without giving a fair and prominent indication of any relevant risks.
- The terms and conditions relating to a product or service should be made available to customers supported by a comprehensive set of FAQs which address all the key issues including consumer protection, charges and fees.
- Customer communications must always include the name, head office address and contact details of the company providing the product or service. All products and services members provide must show the name of the licensed entity that is responsible for the product in the eyes of the regulator.
- Customer support should enable customers to fully utilise the products and services provided. Customer support contact details should be displayed clearly on the product, product website and/or app. This information should be easy to find and understand.
- Customer support and the channels used to provide support should meet the needs of all customers including vulnerable customers and customers with protected characteristics.
- Customer support should be provided promptly and delivered appropriately for the nature of the product or service. Members should have exceptions processes in place to deal with non-standard issues relating to areas such as security or fraud concerns or issues of a technical nature.
- Where customer support is provided by an outsourced third party in full or in part, members should make sure the support meets the standards required by law.
- Members should be mindful of the changing needs of customers especially where customers become vulnerable either temporarily or permanently.
- Customer complaints should be handled promptly and analysed with a view to removing the root causes.
- Members should make sure that they can continue to provide a reasonable level of customer support in the event of a service disruption such as an IT outage or cyber-attack.
- Where a person is authorised by a customer or by law to assist in the conduct of the customer’s affairs, such as where a Power of Attorney applies, members should provide the same level of support to that person as they would have provided the customer.
- Members must not present unreasonable barriers to account closure and should deal promptly with account holder requests. Where prompts and incentives are used for customer retention purposes, members should consider the impact these have on a customer’s ability to switch or exit from a product or service.
- Members should make sure that any exit fees are commensurate with the costs incurred by the business associated with the customer terminating the agreement early. Information and consequences of early closure should be clearly communicated to customers through the terms and conditions and FAQs.
- Account holder information must be dealt with in accordance with prevailing data protection law.