Cyprus: Licensing And Supervision Of Payment Institutions

Last Updated: 19 September 2017
Article by Panicos G. Papamichael, Alexis Agathocleous and Clea Evagorou

Most Read Contributor in Cyprus, December 2018

Question 1: What are Payment Services?

  1. Services enabling cash to be placed on a payment account as well as all the operations required for operating a payment account
  2. Services enabling cash withdrawals from a payment account as well as all the operations required for operating a payment account
  3. Execution of payment transactions, including transfers of funds on a payment account with the user's payment service provider or with another payment service provider:
    1. Execution of direct debits, including one-off direct debits
    2. Execution of payment transactions through a payment card or a similar device
    3. Execution of credit transfers, including standing orders
  4. Execution of payment transactions where the funds are covered by a credit line for a payment service user:
    1. Execution of direct debits, including one-off direct debits
    2. Execution of payment transactions through a payment card or a similar device
    3. Execution of credit transfers, including standing orders
  5. Issuing of payment instruments and/or acquiring of payment transactions
  6. Money remittance
  7. Execution of payment transactions through a telecommunication or digital device

Please refer to Appendix A for a more detailed description of the above services

Question 2: Who can set up a Payment Institution?

  • Payment services in the Republic of Cyprus may only be provided by a payment institution which has been granted an authorisation by the Central Bank of Cyprus (CBC)
  • An authorisation for the operation of a payment institution is only granted to legal persons which have been incorporated and have their head office in the Republic
  • The following persons may provide payment services in the Republic of Cyprus without obtaining the prior approval of the CBC:
    • Banks licensed by the CBC or by a competent supervisory authority of another EU member state
    • Cooperative societies which have been licensed by the Authority for the Supervision and Development of Cooperative Societies or by the competent supervisory authorities of other EU member states
    • Electronic money institutions which have been licensed by the CBC or by competent supervisory authorities of other EU member states
    • Post office giro institutions which are entitled under national legislation to provide payment services
    • The European Central Bank and national central banks when not acting in their capacity as monetary or other public authorities
    • Member states or regional or local authorities when not acting in their capacity as public authorities
    • Payment institutions that have been granted and maintain a valid authorisation to operate by the competent supervisory authorities of other EU member states. These institutions may either exercise the right of establishment or the right to provide services on a cross - border basis, provided that the competent authorities of the home member state submit a notification to the CBC.

Question 3: Are there any restrictions?

Restrictions exist on:

  • The amount of the initial capital that payment institutions are required to maintain
  • The amount of own funds that payment institutions are required to maintain

Question 4: What information are you required to submit?

  • For the purpose of obtaining an authorisation for providing payment services, interested persons must submit:

    • An application to the CBC
    • Accompanied by the following information and documents

      • Application PSD/Q4 for the registration of an agent in the public register
      • Notification PSD/Q5 for exercising the right of establishment in another EU member
      • Application PSD/Q6 for exercising the right of freedom to provide services in anotherEU member
      • Application PSD/Q7 for variation of operation authorisation to cover additional payment services
      • A program of operations, setting out in particular the payment services envisaged
      • A business plan including a forecast budget calculation for the first three financial years, which demonstrates that the applicant is able to employ such systems, resources and procedures so as to operate soundly
      • Evidence that the applicant holds the required initial capital
      • A description of the measures taken to comply with the requirements of the Payment Services Law of 2009
      • A description of the applicant's governance arrangements and internal control mechanisms, including administrative, risk management and accounting procedures, which demonstrates that these governance arrangements and control mechanisms are appropriate and adequate
      • A description of the internal control mechanisms which the applicant has established in order to comply with the requirements of the Prevention and Suppression of Money Laundering Activities Law of 2007 on information on the payer accompanying transfers of funds, as it may further be amended or replaced
      • A description of the applicant's participation in a national or international payment system as well as the applicant's structural organisation, including, where applicable, a description of the intended outsourcing arrangements and/or use of agents and branches
      • The identity of persons who have, directly or indirectly, control of the applicant or who are partners in the applicant partnership, as well as details on the size of their holdings and evidence of their suitability in view of the need to ensure the sound and prudent management of the payment institution
      • The identity of all directors as well as of the persons responsible for the management of the payment services activities; evidence that they are of good repute and possess appropriate knowledge and experience to perform payment services, in particular a copy of criminal record, a non-bankruptcy report, a description of professional and academic qualifications, of the positions of manager or director that they hold in other legal persons and of their previous employments
      • The identity of statutory auditors
      • The applicant's memorandum and articles of association and
      • The address of the applicant's head office

Question 5: How long does the CBC approval process take?

  • Within three months of receiving a duly completed application for authorisation as a Payment Institution, the CBC shall decide on the application and notify the legal person applying for authorisation of the approval or the rejection of the application.
  • An application shall be considered as being duly completed only if it is submitted with all the required information (refer to question 5)
    • Rejection of an application shall be duly justified

    Summary of the process

    Legal persons interested in obtaining an authorisation for providing payment services, must

    1. Complete and submit to the CBC the relevant Application Form
    2. Ensure that all required data and documents are included in the application before submitting it to the CBC (refer to question 4)

    Different Questionnaires will need to be completed by the following parties:

    Legal Persons

    • Holders/proposed holders of direct or indirect control in the applicant
    • Partners in an applicant partnership
    • Appointed agents in Cyprus of payment institutions licensed in other EU member states

    Natural Persons

    • Holders/proposed holders of direct or indirect control in the applicant
    • Partners in an applicant partnership
    • Directors/proposed directors of the applicant
    • Persons responsible for the management of the applicant
    • Appointed agents in Cyprus of payment institutions licensed in other EU member states
    • Directors in the legal person and/or holders of 10% or more of its share capital

    How Deloitte can help

    Our services with regards to the licensing of a Payment Institution include the full spectrum of services required:

    • Preparing the Application
    • Preparing a detailed time plan for the full establishment and full function of the Payment Service Institution
    • Drafting the required questionnaires
    • Compiling the appropriate and relevant information
    • Advising on Management structure
    • Designing and drafting a Business Plan including:
      • Strategy/Market and client target/Customer journey
      • Organisational structure
      • Financial projections
      • Operational procedures
      • AML procedures
    • Designing the required IT Architecture
    • Communicating with CBC on behalf of client
    • Acting as liaison/Project management
    • Testing the IT systems ahead of going live
    • Internal Audit
    • Tax compliance

    Appendix A

    Service Description

    1. When you are accepting cash electronically or over-the counter or through ATMs which is placed on a payment account which you operate.
    1. The crediting of interest to a payment account is not a service enabling cash to be placed on a payment account.
    2. When you provide, for example, an ATM cash withdrawal or over the counter cash withdrawal service in relation to the payment accounts which you operate.
    3. When you provide a service to clients enabling them to complete payment by way, for example, of direct debit, payment card (such as a debit card), electronic cheque or credit transfer (such as a standing order).
    4. Where these services are provided using a credit line. For example when you provide a service to clients enabling them to complete payment, by way of direct debit using overdraft facilities, payment card such as deferred debit or credit card, electronic cheque using overdraft facilities or credit transfer (such as a standing order) using overdraft facilities.
    5. This is when your business includes "merchant acquiring". This will typically include providing services enabling suppliers of goods, services, accommodation or facilities to be paid for purchases arising from card scheme transactions.
    6. Money remittance is defined as a service for the transmission of money (or any representation of monetary value), without any payment accounts being created in the name of the payer or payee, where:
      • funds are received from a payer for the sole purpose of transferring a corresponding amount to a payee or to another payment service provider acting on behalf of the payee; or
      • funds are received on behalf of, and made available to, the payee.

    The service of money remittance cannot therefore involve the creation of payment accounts.

    Money remittance is a simple payment service that is usually based on cash provided by a payer to a payment service provider, which remits the corresponding amount, for example, via communication network, to a payee or to another payment service provider acting on behalf of the payee.

    This service is likely therefore to be relevant, for example, to money transfer companies.

    1. Execution of payment transactions where the consent of the payer to execute a payment transaction is given by means of any telecommunications, IT system or network operator, acting only as an intermediary between the payment service user and the supplier of the goods and services.

    The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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