Payment services

More and more innovative technology solutions are being introduced to make payment services faster, more convenient and efficient. Today, payment services are no longer just an option provided by banks, they may also be offered by other market participants. Nevertheless, it should be kept in mind that the provision of payment services may only be started after obtaining an appropriate permit from the FCMC.

Obtaining a payment institution operating licence enables it to provide a variety of payment services, such as money remittance, credit transfers, card payments, cash deposits and withdrawals from the account, payment initiation, etc.  

If the planned operation meets the specified conditions, it is also possible to obtain a preferential FCMC permit – it is sufficient to obtain the status of a registered payment institution. In this case, the range and scope of the types of payment services permitted are limited, as well as payment services may only be provided in Latvia and customers should be related to Latvia.

A detailed description of the requirements for obtaining a licence or registration is available on the FCMC website.

The provision of payment services may also be carried out by electronic money institutions, which have also obtained a permit to provide payment services.

The following sections give useful information for interested parties considering the possibility of obtaining a permit for the operation of a payment institution or an electronic money institution.

Types of payment services

The payment institution licence (or registered institution permit) shall indicate the types of payment services that the payment institution is entitled to provide. The Law on Payment Services and Electronic Money defines the following types of payment services:

1. Service enabling the placement of cash on a payment account, and also all the necessary operations performed by a payment service provider to provide a payment service user with the possibility to use a payment account;

2. Service enabling cash withdrawals from a payment account, and also all the necessary operations performed by a payment service provider to provide a payment service user with the possibility to use a payment account;

3. Execution of a payment, including:

  • execution of a direct debit, also one-off direct debit,
  • execution of a payment through a payment card or a similar device,
  • execution of a credit transfer, as well as execution of a standing order.

The payment service referred to in this paragraph shall also include the transfer of money to a payment account opened by the payment service provider of the payment service user or another payment service provider.

4. Execution of a payment, including:

  • execution of a direct debit, also one-off direct debit,
  • execution of a payment through a payment card or a similar device,
  • execution of a credit transfer, as well as execution of a standing order.

The payment services referred to in this paragraph refer to a payment service where a credit limit is applied to the money available to the payment service user.

5. Issuing of a payment instrument or acceptance of payments.

6. Money remittance.

A payment service as a result of which money if received from a payer, without any payment accounts being created in the name of the payer or the payee, for the sole purpose of transferring a corresponding amount to a payee or to a payment service provider acting on behalf of the payee, or as a result of which this amount of money is received by the payment service provider on behalf of and made available to the payee.

7. Payment initiation services.

A payment service as a result of which a payment service provider initiates a payment on behalf of the payment service user from a payment account held at another payment service provider.

8. Account information services.

An online service through which consolidated information regarding one or more payment accounts held by the payment service user with either another payment service provider or with more than one payment service provider is provided to the payment service user.

Exceptions

There are also a number of cases where the Law on Payment Services and Electronic Money does not apply and accordingly no payment institution licence or permit of the registered payment institution should be obtained.

1. Payments made exclusively in cash directly from the payer to the payee, without any intermediary intervention.

2. Payments from the payer to the payee through a commercial agent authorised to negotiate or conclude the sale or purchase of goods or services on behalf of the payer or the payee.

3. Physical transport of banknotes and coins, including their collection, processing and delivery, if it is done for the purposes of commercial activities, non-profit-making activities, or charitable activities.

4. In cases when the payee concurrently with selling of goods or services is disbursing money to the payer if the payer has requested it prior to the settlement of the purchase.

5. Money exchange transactions where the funds are not deposited on a payment account.

6. Payments which have been executed on the basis of any of the following documents drawn on the payment service provider, with a view to placing money at the disposal of the payee:

  • paper cheques in accordance with the Geneva Convention of 19 March 1931 providing a uniform law for cheques,
  • paper cheques governed by the laws of Member States which are not party to the Geneva Convention of 19 March 1931 providing a uniform law for cheques,
  • paper-based drafts in accordance with the Geneva Convention of 7 June 1930 providing a uniform law for bills of exchange and promissory notes,
  • paper-based drafts governed by the laws of Member States which are not party to the Geneva Convention of 7 June 1930 providing a uniform law for bills of exchange and promissory notes,
  • paper-based vouchers,
  • paper-based traveller's cheques,
  • paper-based postal money orders as defined by the Universal Postal Union.

7. Payments mutually executed within a payment or securities settlement system between central counterparties, clearing houses, central banks, settlement agents, other participants of the system within the meaning of the Law on Settlement Finality in Payment and Financial Instrument Settlement Systems, as well as between payment service providers.

8. Payments related to securities asset servicing, redemption, or sale, including dividends, income or other distributions, if it is carried out by persons referred to in paragraph 7 or by investment firms, investment management companies, or credit institutions which provide investment services, or other commercial companies allowed to hold financial instruments.

9. Services provided by technical service providers, without them entering at any time into ownership (possession) of the money to be transferred, except for payment initiation services or account information services.

10. Services in which a specific payment instrument is used in a limited manner for the purchase of goods or a service, conforming to one of the following conditions:

  • in relation to a very limited, functionally linked range of goods or services,
  • at the location (in the premises) of the payment instrument issuer,
  • in a limited and closed network of such sellers of goods and providers of services which have a commercial contract concluded directly with the payment instrument issuer,
  • with suppliers in the territory of Latvia which have a commercial agreement with the payment instrument issuer, if the payment instrument is being issued by a State or local government institution, or a capital company of a public person for social purposes in the cases specified in legal acts.

If the total value of payments executed within the period of previous 12 months for a person who is carrying out the above activities exceeds EUR 1 000 000, the person shall send a notification to the FCMC including therein a description of the services offered and an explanation as to which of the types of exceptions would be applicable to activities of such person and whether the activities of the person should be recognised as a limited network.

11. Payments which are provided by an electronic communications merchant to an individual end-user (post-paid or prepaid service user) in addition to communications services, including payment in the relevant invoice, if the value of individual payment does not exceed EUR 50 and the total value of such payments for an individual end-user does not exceed EUR 300 per month and if the payment is executed:

  • for the purchase of digital content or voice telephony service (including telephone polling, premium rate SMS) regardless of the device which is used for the purchase or consumption of digital content,
  • for charity purposes or for the purchase of tickets (including transport, entertainment, parking or entry permits) which is executed through an electronic device.

12. Mutual payments of payment service providers, as well as their agents or branches for own needs.

13. Payments executed within the scope of a group of commercial companies between a parent company and its subsidiary or between subsidiaries of the same parent company, without involving other payment service providers outside this group of commercial companies.

14. Withdrawal of money from automated teller machines, if the service provider is acting as the agent of one or several payment card issuers, is not party to the framework contract with the customer withdrawing money from the payment account and does not provide other payment services.

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