With introduction of the euro on 1 January 2015, and existing EU regulation on payment services and e-money, Lithuania possesses a full tool kit to compete on the EU level and at the same time to offer an attractive market with high legal certainty in regulation.
Currently, the Lithuanian payment services market is small – the first three quarters of 2014 generated EUR 15.2 million in income for payment service providers – while the number of payment institutions is small and the range of services narrow.
However, since upcoming years are very likely to see a significant expansion of the payment services market, we here present key market legislation and prospective changes.
According to public data, 36 payment institutions were recorded in the public list of payment institutions. However, the suggested scope of services by payment institutions differs and competition between them is low. Out of these 36 institutions, 29 hold a licence only for one payment service – money remittance.
Current figures show that banks control the biggest share of the Lithuanian payment services market (during 2014 they provided access to 8 million payment accounts, 70% of which were managed online) while the market share of payment institutions is approx 12%.
Meanwhile, the electronic money market in Lithuania is still in the development phase. At the moment only three Lithuanian companies hold an electronic money institution licence and the first three quarters of 2014 showed that electronic money issuance in Lithuania amounted to EUR 2.02 million.
Lithuania has fully implemented the Payment Service Directive and the E-Money Directive. The Bank of Lithuania as financial supervisory authority has adopted secondary legal acts to regulate payment services and e-money. The main legal acts adopted by the Bank of Lithuania can be divided into legal requirements on:
- equity calculations;
- the right to operate on a cross-border basis;
- internal control requirements;
- risk management and protection of funds.
The most recent legal development in Lithuania is resolution of minimum security requirements for online payments, adopted by the Bank of Lithuania and in force from 1 November 2015. This resolution implements the Recommendations for the Security of Internet Payments issued by the European Central Bank. On the basis of these Recommendations, payment service providers will have to establish internal procedures to ensure internet payments are made securely.
EURO BRINGS CHANGES IN REGULATION
Given that the euro was introduced in Lithuania in January 2015, SEPA (Single Euro Payments Area) Regulation requirements will enter into force in Lithuania next year. For this reason, changes in the Lithuanian payment environment will be necessary. Lithuanian law requirements incompatible with SEPA requirements are expected to be changed as soon as possible.
Technical and business requirements for credit transfers and direct debits in euro should be established in the near future and applicable to all payment service providers.
EU REGULATION INITIATIVES AND LITHUANIA
Lithuania has already implemented some elements of the Payment Accounts Directive. This includes creation of a website operated by the Bank of Lithuania which offers a comparison of and changes in fees applied to payment services by different Lithuanian payment service providers.
The Payment Services Directive II contains a proposal to prohibit a surcharge from being applied by payees for payments using debit and credit cards. In order to encourage use of efficient payment instruments, Lithuania, in common with many other EU Member States, already prohibits a surcharge for payers using a payment card.
Implementation of the Regulation on Interchange Fees in Lithuania would create grounds for reducing fees paid by traders for accepting and processing cards. However, card market concentration may limit the impact of interchange fee regulation since an interchange fee is not applied when payment is received by the bank which is also the card issuer.