In a move aimed at combating the rising tide of authorized push payment (APP) fraud, Britain’s Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) said it would be making it mandatory for banks and payment firms to reimburse victims of online bank fraud within five days. This comes in response to the thousands of individuals who have fallen victim to a wave of fake online bank transactions, resulting in significant financial losses.
APP fraud has plagued the UK in recent years (and everywhere else too), leaving innocent individuals devastated by the loss of their hard-earned savings. The PSR’s new regulations will primarily apply to the Faster Payments system, the platform where the majority of APP fraud incidents have occurred. The reimbursement requirements will take effect in 2024, giving financial institutions time to adapt and implement necessary changes.
Under the PSR’s directive, all payment firms will be obliged to take action and share the responsibility of reimbursing victims. Both sending and receiving firms will be equally responsible for covering the costs. This approach ensures that the burden of reimbursement is not placed solely on the shoulders of the victims, but rather is shared among all parties involved in the payment process.
The announcement has been met with widespread approval from industry stakeholders, according to Reuters:
Pay.UK, a prominent retail payments firm, commended the PSR’s decision, stating, “We are pleased the PSR has said it will now use its powers to compel all banks and building societies which make and receive payments over the UK’s Faster Payment system to reimburse victims of APP scams when the regime goes live in 2024.”
This move by the PSR represents a significant step forward in consumer protection and financial security. By mandating swift reimbursements for victims of APP fraud, the regulator sends a clear message that banks and payment firms must prioritize customer safety and take proactive measures to prevent and mitigate fraudulent activities.
On an international level, the PSR’s decision may serve as a blueprint for other countries grappling with the rising threat of online fraud. By setting a precedent for mandatory reimbursement within a specific timeframe, the UK’s approach could inspire regulatory bodies around the world to take similar action.
What’s more, this approach by PSR contrasts with the current regulatory policy in the United States. While the PSR has implemented mandatory reimbursement requirements for banks and payment firms within a specific timeframe, the regulatory landscape in the U.S. is much looser, and does not mandate reimbursements for victims of fraud.
In the U.S., the current regulatory policy regarding unauthorized electronic transfers and reimbursement is governed by Regulation E (Reg E), implemented by the Federal Reserve to enforce the Electronic Fund Transfer Act of 1978. While Reg E has undergone revisions and clarifications over the years, one crucial aspect remains unchanged: if a customer willingly performs an authorized transaction, even if they were manipulated by a scammer, they are not covered by Reg E, and the bank is not obligated to reimburse them.
Under the current regulatory framework, financial institutions are not held liable to reimburse customers in such cases. Some banks and payment firms may have more robust reimbursement policies, while others may provide limited or no reimbursement at all. This disparity can create confusion and frustration for victims, who may find themselves at the mercy of individual bank policies and dispute resolution processes.
In the U.S., policymakers and regulatory bodies should consider revisiting and updating the existing framework, in light of the progress being made in the UK. At a minimum, the U.S. should watch closely to see the effect of the regulations on consumers and on fraud in the UK.