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Payment Systems Regulator boss Nixon to leave in April

The Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) has announced that Hannah Nixon will be standing down as managing director in April.

Pending the appointment of a permanent successor, the PSR board has asked Chris Hemsley, currently head of policy, and Louise Buckley, currently COO, to act as joint interim managing directors. They will report to Financial Conduct Authority CEO, Andrew Bailey.

Nixon, who has led the PSR through its formative years, will leave the organisation amid its major market review into card acquiring services. Last week, it published the final terms of reference for a market review into the supply of card-acquiring services following concerns the market may not be working well for merchants or consumers.

The regulator published the draft terms of reference for this market review in July 2018, and the final terms take into account the feedback received by the PSR during the following consultation period.

In the review, the PSR will set out to investigate the nature and characteristics of card-acquiring services; how merchants buy card-acquiring services; who provides card-acquiring services and how their market shares have developed historically; whether there are credible alternatives to card-acquiring services for some or all merchants; what the market is delivering for merchants and consumers, including the fees merchants pay and the quality of service they receive.

The aim is to publish an interim report by the end of 2019, presenting the analysis and preliminary conclusions for consultation, but the British Retail Consortium has argued that the review does not go far enough.

Andrew Cregan, payments & consumer credit policy advisor at the BRC, commented: “While we welcome the Payment Systems Regulator’s decision to investigate the card payments market, it is disappointing that the soaring scheme fees levied on businesses are not being looked into.

“These fees have increased by over £1 billion in three years. With retailers already under intense pressure from the challenging trading environment, it is impossible for them to continue to absorb these higher costs.”

He added: “This will force future rises to be passed along to consumers, many of whom are struggling with years of lacklustre wage growth.”

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