Pursuant to Directive 2014/92/EU (“PAD”), as implemented in Italy under the Italian Consolidated Banking Act (“CBA”), payment service providers (“PSPs”) offering payment accounts to consumers must participate on one or more websites comparing payment account offers, to which consumers shall have access free of charge (so-called comparison websites).
The CBA sets out the requirements to be met by comparison websites, including but not limited to, operational independence from PSPs, equal treatment of PSPs and disclosure of the criteria on which the comparison is based. In addition, such websites must allow consumers to compare fees charged by PSPs for at least the services included in the list of the ‘most representative services linked to a payment account at national level’ as published by the Bank of Italy on 27 April 2018 (available here in Italian only) (jointly the “CBA Requirements”).
Secondary measures implementing the above provisions have now been set out under Ministerial Decree of 22 December 2020 published in the Italian Official Gazette on 18 March 2021 (the “Decree”).
Below is a brief overview of the main provisions of the Decree:
- Attestation of conformity: owners of comparison websites must obtain on a yearly basis an attestation of conformity, meaning a certification stating that the relevant websites meet the CBA Requirements, released by a conformity assessment body (as defined under Regulation (EC) No. 765/2008). The Decree also sets out provisions on the suspension and the revocation of the above mentioned attestation;
- Conformity assessment: the conformity assessment body must follow a specific assessment procedure set out under the Decree;
- Reporting to the Bank of Italy: owners of these comparison websites must file with the Bank of Italy the report of the conformity assessment body on the compliance with the CBA Requirements within 31 December of each year;
- Terms and modalities for the comparison: PSPs are required to provide the owner of the website with data necessary for the comparison both at the time they join the comparison website and upon the occurrence of changes to such data. The Decree sets out the terms and ways of such information flows;
- Exclusion of PSPs from comparison websites: owners of comparison websites are allowed to exclude PSPs from the comparison in specific cases set out under the Decree (e.g. when the PSP does not provide the owner of the comparison website with the necessary data within the terms set out under the Decree). Such exclusion must be promptly communicated to the Bank of Italy and the relevant PSP.
The Decree (available here in Italian only) entered into force on 19 March 2021. Comparison websites and PSPs must take into account the requirements set out under the Decree in their business.
Authored by Jeffrey Greenbaum, Claudia Colomba, Elisabetta Zeppieri, and Antonio Rossi