Important Development in the Payment Services Legislation in North Macedonia

In April 2022, the Parliament of North Macedonia adopted the Law on Payment Services and Payment Systems (“Law”), which is greatly harmonized with European Union directives (e.g. Directives (EU) 2015/2366, 2009/110/EC, 98/26/EC, 2014/92/EU) and regulations (e.g. Regulations (EU) 2015/751 and 260/2012).

The application of the Law will begin from 1 January 2023, while legal entities that provide payment services will have additional time to ensure compliance with several provisions of the Law. Additionally, on 1 January 2023, the following two laws will cease to apply (except for a few provisions from these laws):

  • The Law on Payment Operations (2007) which so far regulated payment operations carriers, payment systems and their supervision, as well as the issuance of electronic money; and
  • The Law on Providing Fast Money Transfer Services (2003).

The Law regulates new payment services, encourages the reduction of the price for payment services, improves consumer rights, enables transparency and comparability of fees for payment services and introduces the concept of a payment account with basic functions. It also provides a more detailed regulation of the relations between payment service providers and users.

Competition among payment services providers will be encouraged by incentivizing the transition from one payment service provider to another. This will offer more favourable conditions for performing payment services through easier portability of all relevant information related to the payment account.

The Law prescribes different capital requirements for establishing an entity that provides payment services, depending on the specific service. The idea behind this is to enable easier access to the payment services market in North Macedonia.

A notable novelty introduced with the Law is the introduction and regulation of interchange fees in card payments. Additionally, a Unique Register of Accounts will be established within the National Bank of North Macedonia (“National Bank”).

For improvement of transparency of payment services, the National Bank will be obliged to prepare a list of the most representative services of payment service providers, which will be comparatively displayed on its website.

Another novelty introduced with the Law is the possibility for domestic individuals and foreign individuals having regulated stay in North Macedonia to open a payment account with basic functions. Through this account, individuals will be able to perform payment transactions for settling their utility bills or transferring funds to another person, without using allowed overruns.

The Law aims to increase the digitalization of payment operations participants and opens opportunities for non-banking institutions to provide new payment services. Ultimately, the Law will contribute to maintaining an efficient and secure national payment system.

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