On 15 January 2010, the first of three acts transposing into Belgian law the Payment Services Directive or “PSD” (Directive 2007/64 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 November 2007 on payment services in the internal market) was published in the Belgian State Gazette. The two other acts will be published on 18 January 2010. The PSD is intended to harmonise the market for payment services within the European Union.

The rules set forth in the PSD relate to two areas:

  • licensing for payment service providers; and
  • conduct-of-business requirements for payment service providers, including obligations to provide information as well as the rights and obligations of payment service providers and their clients.

The PSD supplements the initiative of the European banking sector to create a Single Euro Payments Area or SEPA. In the context of SEPA, European banks have drawn up standards for pan-European payments in euro by means of credit transfers, direct debits, payment cards and credit cards.

This newsletter discusses the most important consequences of the implementation of the PSD in Belgium.

Implementation status

The PSD has been implemented in Belgium by three separate acts:

  • Act of 21 December 2009 on the status of payment institutions, access to the activities of payment service providers and payment systems (the “Payment Institutions Act”);
  • Act of 10 December 2009 on payment services (the “Payment Services Act”);
  • Act of 22 December 2009 amending the Act of 2 August 2002 on the supervision of the financial sector and on financial services and introducing a new possibility for injunctive relief (action en cessation/vordering tot staking) for violation of the Payment Services Act.

Only the first two acts are discussed in this newsletter.

The Payment Institutions Act (pending publication) provides that it enters into force with retroactive effect as from 1 November 2009.

The Payment Services Act will enter into force on 1 April 2010, i.e. the first day of the third month following its publication in the Belgian State Gazette.

The Payment Institutions Act

For more information on the Payment Institutions Act, please click here.

The Payment Services Act

For more information on the Payment Services Act, please click here.

Practical consequences

In light of the new Payment Institutions Act and Payment Services Act, we advise our clients to assess whether their activities include the provision of qualifying payment services and, consequently, if they will be considered payment service providers. In any case, we recommend taking the following precautions:

  • check whether they already have a required licence to provide payment services in Belgium; if not, it may be necessary to apply for a licence as a payment institution;
  • in any case, check and, if necessary, amend any contracts, terms and conditions and brochures relating to payment services to ensure that they comply with the requirements relating to the provision of information and the rights and obligations of payment service providers and users laid down in the Payment Services Act; terms and conditions must be brought into line with the Payment Services Act no later than 1 April 2010, and clients must be notified of any changes made to existing terms and conditions for this purpose before 1 February 2010;
  • assess whether internal systems need to be adjusted in connection with the requirements relating to execution periods and value dating.