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UK PRS industry welcomes regulatory change as PSA becomes part of Ofcom

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The UK’s PRS industry has tentatively welcomed the plan to fold PRS regulator the Phone Paid Services Authority (PSA) into Ofcom from late 2023.

Joanna Cox, General Manager, Association for Interactive Media and Micropayments (AIMM), says: “While we are surprised by this announcement, coming less than a month after the launch of a new Code of Practice, we do understand the reasons that have been put forward for the absorption of the PSA into Ofcom. Huge progress has been made through collaboration across Industry and ongoing communication with the PSA – in particular the ability to liaise with the regulator on highly technical matters – and we look forward to continuing this relationship with Ofcom. As the transition develops, we will continue to work with our members to ensure that they are consulted and able to input into the regulatory changes at every stage. In building a new relationship with Ofcom, we are keen that we can help refine further a regulatory landscape that is proportionate and allows for innovation and opportunity in our changing market.”

Compliance monitoring firm MCP also broadly welcomes the move, stressing that Ofcom bringing regulation in-house appears to recognise the maturity of the market and reduced investigatory requirement after complaint channels have dried to a trickle.

MCP Founder, Toby Padgham, says: “MCP believes that there is now a good foundation for the industry to grow sustainably, supported by better recognising and encouraging the self-regulatory ethos and where the regulator acts as a necessary back-stop. Industry is now equipped with more responsive market monitoring, fraud blocking protection, KYC enabling PIN-Loop verification and better-informed risk control procedures. This will enable the market to grow in a more controlled manner.”

According to MCP, it appears that the move will not signal any reduction in regulatory standards or expectation, though it is expected that this may open the door to significant cost savings, which are widely anticipated to be achieved by the combined operational costs, along with the reduced workload.

It is hoped the reduced financial burden of regulatory oversight – a tax that is ultimately incurred by the consumer through increased product costs – will be passed on, through a reduction in the levy currently applied to the sector on every transaction.

David Ashman, Head of Compliance at MCP, adds: “Regulators and mobile operators in other countries may find it useful to learn from the UK market evolution to avoid the boom-and-bust lifecycle and use targeted self-regulation to build a sustainable market from inception; minimising the need for more prescriptive regulation that might hold back innovation.”

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