The climate towards modern payment services is positive. FINMA issued based on the Money Laundering Act and relevant ordinances the Circular 2016/7 regarding video and online authentication and duties in the context of establishing business relationships through digital channels.
Payment services under a proxy from a third party account (of the customer) or own account (of the service provider) generally are subject to the Swiss Money Laundering Act (Money Laundering Act) and pertinent ordinances. The provider of such services acting on a professional basis qualifies under the Money Laundering Act as financial intermediary (see Circular Letter Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority FINMA 2011/1, note 58 et seq.) and is subject to the pertinent (know your customer-) duties under the Money Laundering Act. The provider of such services as financial intermediary has to become a member of a self-regulatory organization (SRO) (under supervision of FINMA) or to file a license petition with FINMA. If the provider of such services is holding deposits of the customers (and not only permitted transaction/settlement accounts – where the monies for a defined transaction of the customer are deposited less than 6 days) accepting on a professional basis or soliciting the acceptance of deposits from the public (gewerbsmässige Entgegennahme von Publikumseinlagen) – he has to apply for a banking license under the Swiss Banking Act (Banking Act) and pertinent ordinances. Further, the Swiss Consumer Credit Act (Consumer Credit Act) can be applicable which stipulates certain rules and limitations for the granting of loans to customers. For the granting of such loans an authorization might be required.
The Payment Service Directive 2 of the EU (PSD2) will not be applicable in Switzerland in 2018 and Swiss banks are for the time being reluctant to grant to FinTechs an Application Programming Interface (API) enabling them to act as a Payment Initiation Service Provider (PISP) or Account information Service Provider (AISP). Also the Swiss Government is seeing for the time being no necessity to introduce a regulation similar to the PSD2 (see Finanz und Wirtschaft, 10 June 2017, p. 6).
There is no reliable data available for FinTech payment providers in Switzerland and the market is restricted since banks do not grant APIs and there is no regulation planned as the DSP2 in Switzerland granting interfaces to banks accounts of customers at the request of the customers.
Jürg E. Hartmann