All questions


i Overview

Payment instruments in Portugal are highly reliable and the payments market in Portugal is in line with international best practice. According to the official numbers released by the BdP, Portugal is the euro area country with the most card payments as a percentage of GDP.

Prior to the entry into force in Portugal of Directive 2007/64/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 November 2007 on payment services in the internal market (the Payment Services Directive), the issuance and management of debit cards was mainly governed by the Bank of Portugal Notice (Aviso) No. 11/2001 of 20 November on credit and debit cards and corresponding terms of use (BoP Notice 11/01), and by the RGICSF. The pursuit of this activity in the Portuguese territory had to be carried out by credit institutions or financial companies.

Upon the implementation into Portuguese law of the Payment Services Directive by the enactment of Decree-Law No. 317/2009 of 30 October, as amended (DL 317/09), the RGICSF has been amended in order to provide for the establishment of the new 'payment institutions' (which do not fall under the definition of credit institutions or financial companies) that are entitled to provide payment services – which include the issuance of debit cards.

However, BoP Notice 11/01 has not been amended or revoked in light of the new rules on the provision of payment services. Consequently, at present DL 317/09 provides for rules on the issuance of debit cards applicable to entities that may provide payment services – credit institutions, financial companies and payment institutions – and BoP Notice 11/01 provides for rules on the issuance of debit cards for credit institutions and financial companies.

The large majority of rules provided for BoP Notice 11/01 are also provided for in DL 317/09, although there are some differences worth highlighting, such as: (1) whereas in DL 317/09, when the client is not a consumer or a micro-enterprise, parties may provide that the rules on the information requirements set out in the law are not applicable, the rules set out in BoP Notice 11/01 are mandatory; and (2) BoP Notice 11/01 requires the agreements to be written in Portuguese, it expressly provides that the information on charges and rates of interest cannot be inserted in the agreement by reference to a list of costs and charges available in the branches or by another medium (such as the website) and the issuer is entitled to change the agreement by giving a 15-day notice period to the client.

More recently, Regulation (EU) 2015/751 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2015 on interchange fees for card-based payment transactions (IFR), became directly applicable in its entirety from 9 June 2016.

ii Recent developments

Up until now, the BdP has only issued some guidelines on its official website regarding interchange fees, which are mainly addressed to consumers, containing, among other matters, a summary of the main provisions of the Regulation, and an explanation of the concepts of 'brands' and 'co-branding'.

Based on the information publicly available on the matter, Portugal has not yet exercised (nor indicated that it will exercise) any of the three discretions mentioned below:

  1. discretion in relation to domestic consumer debit card transactions under Articles 3(2) or 3(3) of the IFR;
  2. discretion to set a lower interchange fee cap in relation to domestic consumer credit transactions under Article 4 of the IFR; or
  3. discretion to waive fee caps in relation to domestic schemes, such as the three-party payment card scheme, until 9 December 2018 under Article 1(5) of the IFR.

More broadly, retail payments grew in value and volume, reflecting the trend of private consumption in Portugal. Recourse to electronic payments rose further, particularly for international purchases, in line with the growth of tourism in Portugal. The use of cheques declined further, while recourse to electronic payment instruments continued to increase.

Lastly, Directive 2015/2366 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 November 2015 on payment services in the internal market (PSD2 Directive) was implemented in 2018, but no proposal of implementation law has yet been published.