This document provides guidance for consumer bodies seeking to become super-complainants to the Payment Systems Regulator (PSR).
The Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) came into force on 1 April 2015, with powers to promote competition, innovation and the responsiveness of payment systems to the needs of service-users – as set out in the Financial Services (Banking Reform) Act 2013 (“the Act”).
Under the Act, the Treasury has the power to designate certain bodies as super-complainants to the PSR. The government has now written to four consumer groups informing them of our intention to designate them as PSR super-complainants. These four bodies are:
- Citizens Advice Bureaux
- Consumers Association (Which?)
- Consumer Council Northern Ireland
- Federation of Small Businesses
We have also written to Age UK to invite it to make an application to become a designated super-complainant.
What is a super-complaint?
The Act gives designated consumer bodies the right to make a super-complaint to the PSR where that body considers that there are features of a market in the United Kingdom for payment systems, (such as the market structure or the conduct of firms operating within it) that are, or which may be, significantly damaging the interests of consumers.
Applying to become a super-complainant to the Payment Systems Regulator (PSR)
The Treasury would also like to invite interested parties to apply for the status of super-complainant under the Financial Services Act 2013. The deadline for applications is 12 October 2015.
Applications should be submitted in writing to the following address:
Banking and Credit Team
Financial Services Group
1 Horse Guards Road
How will consumer bodies be designated?
Bodies will be designated with consideration for the following criteria, which prospective super-complainants must reference, and where necessary show evidence of, in their applications:
The body is so constituted, managed and controlled as to be expected to act independently, impartiality and with complete integrity.
The body can demonstrate considerable experience and competence in representing the interests of consumers of any description.
The body has the capability to put together reasoned super-complaints on a range of issues relating to payments.
The body is ready and willing to co-operate with the PSR. In particular, the body agrees to take account of any guidance issued by the PSR on the making of super-complaints.
The fact that a body has a trading arm will not disqualify it from being designated provided that the trading arm does not control the body; any profits of the trading arm are only used to further the stated objectives of the body; and the body has established procedures to ensure that any potential conflicts of interest are properly dealt with.
Where it appears to the Treasury that a body primarily represents the interests of businesses in their capacity as consumers of payment systems and services, the body must be able to demonstrate that it primarily represents the interests of small or medium-sized businesses.
How will the PSR respond to super-complaints?
The PSR will have a duty to respond to super-complaints within 90 days. The PSR’s response might involve, for example:
- announce plans to consult on an issue
- explain how the PSR is already taking action to address an issue
- explain why it is not taking any action
Who can bring a super-complaint to the PSR?
Only bodies designated by the Treasury can bring a super-complaint to the PSR.
The PSR has been given the ability to accept super-complaints in order to strengthen the voice of consumers of payment systems, as they are unlikely to have access individually to the kind of information necessary to judge whether markets are failing for them. Consumer groups can access individuals’ complaints to form a judgment on whether there is a problem and then take the necessary action.
However, it is important to remember that any body can still bring complaints to the PSR. Super-complaints simply provide a fast-tracked route into the system to ensure that complaints about market failure which harms consumers are given consideration within a fixed time, and that the regulator is accountable for providing a response.