No. 93 - Competition and Payment Services

In June 2022, Bank of Italy hosted the fifth event of the international research project on European legal strategies for payment systems in the open banking age led by the University of Siena, with the Universities of Alcalá de Henares (Spain) and Warsaw (Poland), to which the Bank of Italy's Legal Department also contributed from the privileged perspective of the National Authority, in charge of the smooth functioning of payment systems.

The study focused on the multiple aspects of the digitalisation of payment services following the entry into force of the second European Payment Services Directive (PSD2), with the aim of analysing the benefits and risks of digital payment services, with specific regard to the context of open banking, which involves public and private actors playing a role in various spheres, including policy-makers, competent authorities, credit institutions, payment service providers, and consumer organisations.

As part of the research, the conference organised by the Bank of Italy focused on the interconnection between digital payment services, open banking and antitrust profiles.

The Quaderno di ricerca giuridica no 93 brings together the majority of the contributions and papers of the conference participants, covering all the topics addressed during the four sessions into which it was divided.

The new services regulated by PSD2, discussed during the first session of the conference, are the general theme common to the first three articles devoted respectively to new models of European governance in the area of money and payments; the vulnerability of the digital-financial consumer in the digital retail payments market; and the analysis of the PSD2 rules on digital innovation in retail payments and market needs from the point of view of the Supervisory Authority.

Four articles are dedicated to the proposal for a European regulation on the crypto-asset market (so-called MiCAR), which represents the first attempt by the Union to regulate these new intangible assets and in particular those that have the function of a payment instrument: they explore, respectively, the new concept of stablecoin; the new large category of Fintech service providers with particular reference to those who perform services in crypto-assets; the rules of consumer protection in (smart) crypto-asset contracts; and some implications of tax law.

From the third session of the conference, on Banking Sector and Competition in the Age of Digital Platforms, there is a paper on competition in the banking sector in the age of digital platforms and another on new antitrust challenges in payment systems. The functioning of the Eurosystem platform for instant payments (TIPS) is illustrated in an essay that also analyses some aspects of competition between operators in euro and other currencies.

The last papers offer us, on the one hand, a key to the topic of bank data sharing and new business models related to application programming interfaces (APIs) and, on the other hand, an overview of the approach to open banking and the main competition issues in the European Union and selected jurisdictions outside the Union.

Finally, the concluding report to the conference ties up the threads of the many aspects discussed during the conference and adds some interesting final remarks.

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