This content is from: Local Insights

Payment Services Directive

The Payment Services Directive has been transposed in Romania, through Government Emergency Ordinance 113/2009 on payment services. The Ordinance entered into force on November 1 2009, together with Regulation 21/2009 on payment institutions, issued by the National Bank of Romania (NBR), which aims at governing the establishment of the payment institutions (PI), their activities and prudential supervision.

In accordance with the Payment Services Directive, the provisions of the Ordinance apply to the payment services providers (PSP), such as credit institutions, e-money institutions, post office giro institutions and PIs. The NBR is the Romanian regulatory body, which is competent to authorise Romanian PIs, supervise the activities performed by PSPs, and monitor the activity of such entities.

All entities which were providing payment services in Romania until November 1 2009 must submit to NBR by December 31 2010 a new authorisation request covering the provision of payment services, authorisation of which must be obtained by April 30 2011.

The Ordinance devotes an important part of its provisions to regulating PIs, covering issues such as the authorisation process, operational requirements and supervision. We outline below the main issues related to the PI regulatory regime in Romania.

There are no restrictions with respect to the legal form of a PI, therefore they can be incorporated either as a public or private company. Payment services can however only be provided based upon the NBR's authorisation, which is granted following registration with the Trade Register. In order to be authorised by the NBR, PIs need to comply with a series of requirements such as capital requirements (which may range from €20,000 to €125,000, depending on the type of payment services the PI contemplates to perform), object of activity, shareholders and persons responsible for the management of the payment services activity. The significant shareholders are assessed by the NBR, taking into consideration their reputation and their capacity to sustain adequate organisation of the PI.

The NBR maintains a PI Register, which contains basic information on all Romanian PIs, their branches in other member states or third countries and the agents of Romanian PIs.

Changes to the situation of a PI require either NBR authorisation or its notification. Among those changes requiring the NBR's prior approval we note supplementing the object of activity, replacement of the persons in charge with the management of the payment services' activity amd outsourcing the relevant operational functions.

With respect to their object of activity, in certain circumstances, Romanian PIs may grant loans related to the payment services they perform, by observing the non-banking financial institutions legislation. PIs are also entitled to open and maintain payment accounts, and to carry out additional and operational services in connection to the payment services, payment systems' management and commercial activities. PIs are not allowed to draw bank deposits or other repayable funds from the general public.

The Ordinance also transposes the Payment Services Directive provisions regarding the safeguarding of funds and further provides that if a PI cannot fulfil its payment obligations towards the users of the payment services (perhaps due to insolvency) such users are preferred in comparison with other creditors with respect to the allotment of the safeguarded funds.

Similarly to other financial institutions, PIs benefit from the European passport, which allows them to provide services in other EU member states either directly or through a branch, with a minimum administrative burden with respect to establishment.

Ioana Iordanescu

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