19th April 2022, Skopje – Liberalization of the financial market via the entry of new providers of payment services, new payment services, as well as reduction of the transaction fee, are some of the novelties, which will be available to the citizens and the companies as of 1st January 2023. This is made possible by adopting the Law on Payment Services and Payment Systems, prepared by the Ministry of Finance, which enters into force on 20th April 2022.
The new Law, being harmonized with the EU Directives in the field of payment services, provides for a reliable, stable and efficient payment system in the Republic of North Macedonia, fully compatible with the payment systems of the EU Member States.
Market liberalization, in addition to the banks, being the only financial institutions in rendering payment services so far, provides for the appearance of payment institutions on the market, i.e. companies, which will render payment services upon approval by the National Bank.
New available services, pertain to payment initiation services and services for providing information on payment accounts. More precisely, the payment initiation service will allow the users to initiate payment transactions via Internet or via mobile applications on their bank account through the payment initiation service provider. This service will be particularly useful in the field of e-commerce, i.e. instead of a payment card, the payment, at the Internet points of sale, will be also made possible by using e-banking.
Services for providing information on payment accounts will provide for easier monitoring of the executed transactions and the balance on the accounts, i.e. improved liquidity management, as well as analysis of the consumption of the payment services user, which may result in offering new services as per his/her needs. In addition, as for the user, it will facilitate the application process for the purpose of obtaining credit products from banks and other financial institutions.
In this light, a significant role is expected to be played by Fintech companies that have knowledge, experience and technologies to establish fast, efficient and reliable electronic access to service providers, i.e. execute payment transactions. Entry of these Fintech companies on the market will be stimulated through simplified requirements regarding the criteria to start rendering the payment services, in order to attract the Fintech companies that should be driving forces of innovative and digitalized payment services, thus boosting the market competition, which will imply improved payment services at lower prices.
Under the Law, particular attention is paid on the consumer protection, by introducing mandatory pre-contractual and contractual information, which payment service providers are obliged to render to the consumer so that he can make the right choice and decide whether to accept the use of services from that provider. In addition, the information about the fees they charge for payment transactions, the seller’s service and similar, will also be made public. Citizens will be given the possibility to transfer, free of charge, the payment account from one service provider to another. As for vulnerable categories (users of legal rights), free-of-charge services are introduced, i.e. no fee will be charged for at least five transactions that are settled internally with the very payment service provider on a monthly basis. Moreover, payment account with basis functions could be opened for the consumers with permanent and temporary place of residence in the Republic of North Macedonia, asylum seeker and consumer, whose request for temporary place of residence was rejected and who cannot leave Republic of North Macedonia due to legal or other practical reasons (right to non-refoulement).
Important novelty in the Law is the limitation of the amount of the replacement fee calculated and paid for each payment transaction based on a payment card, i.e. from the current average fee of 1.21% that they charge from vendors, it will be reduced to 1% of the payment transaction amount on 1st October this year, which will be gradually reduced to 0.2% in 2025. At the same time, accounts, whereon there are have been no inflows and outflows for 24 months, and deposit accounts, with respect to which, there has been no communication with the account holder for 10 years, will receive treatment of dormant accounts, by which, the payment account provider must not reduce the value of the cash funds on these accounts for the purpose of calculating and collecting any fees.
The Law will also provide for establishing a Single Transaction Account Registry, to be maintained within the Central Registry, in which payment accounts, deposit and other Denar and foreign currency accounts and safe-deposit boxes, will be kept.