Application Process for Payment Institutions

This section provides information to firms considering applying for authorisation as a payment institution or registration as an account information service provider (the latter in respect of the provision of account information services (AIS) only). The Central Bank of Ireland (the Central Bank) is the competent authority in Ireland for the authorisation and supervision of payment institutions under the European Union (Payment Services) Regulations 2018 (PSR).

Each applicant seeking authorisation/or registration must satisfy the Central Bank that it can meet the authorisation/registration standards set out in the PSR. Accordingly, the Central Bank adopts a robust, structured and risk-based process that seeks to ensure that only those applicants that demonstrate compliance with these authorisation requirements are authorised.

The Central Bank seeks to process each application as expeditiously as possible while meeting its obligation to operate a rigorous and effective gatekeeper function. 

1. Guidance and Resources

The Payments Authorisation Team is the point of contact for applicant firms. The teams which assist the Payments Authorisation Team with a PI application include the Fitness and Probity, Technology Risk and Anti-Money Laundering teams. For queries on PI applications, please contact [email protected].
The Innovation Hub is a facility available to firms to engage with the Central Bank outside of existing formal regulator/firm engagement processes. Applicant firms are advised to use the following documents as guidance:

2. Application Forms and Individual Questionnaires

Applicant firms should submit the following documentation for authorisation as a Payment Institution:

  1. Application Form for Authorisation as a Payment Institution (including the specific information and documentation requested therein);
  2. Anti-Money Laundering, Counter-Terrorist Financing and Financial Sanctions Pre-Authorisation Risk Evaluation: Questionnaire for Payment Institution and Electronic Money Institution Applicants;
  3. Qualifying Holder Application Forms, as appropriate:
    a) Application for a Legal Person or other entity type with Qualifying Holdings in an Applicant Payment Institution or Electronic Money Institution
    b) Application for a Natural Person with Qualifying Holding in an Applicant Payment Institution or Electronic Money Institution
    c) Application for a Director with Qualifying Holdings in an Applicant Payment Institution or Electronic Money Institution;
  4. Fitness and Probity Individual Questionnaires for all Pre-Approval Controlled Function (PCF) roles (typically board members, senior management, key function holders) submitted electronically via the Central Bank’s Online Reporting System (ONR). Please note access to the ONR is only provided once an application has progressed to Stage 3 - Assessment Phase (detailed below).
Applicant firms should submit the following documentation for registration as an Account Information Service Provider:
  1. Application Form for Registration as an Account Information Service Provider (including the specific information and documentation requested therein)
  2. Fitness and Probity Individual Questionnaires for all Pre-Approval Controlled Function (PCF) roles (typically board members, senior management, key function holders) submitted electronically via the Central Bank’s Online Reporting System (ONR). Please note access to the ONR is only provided once an application has progressed to Stage 3 - Assessment Phase (detailed below).

Subject to certain exempting criteria, AISPs come within the definition of a ‘designated person’ under the Criminal Justice (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) Act 2010 (CJA 2010). AISPs that are classed as a ‘designated person’ under the CJA 2010 are subject to all of the AML/CFT obligations contained under Part 4 of the legislation. Accordingly, those AISPs that come within the definition of a ‘designated person’ should ensure that they are in compliance with all of their AML/CT obligations under the CJA 2010.

3. Pre-Application

Pre-application meetings are scheduled with all potential applicants. The purpose of these pre-application meetings is for the Payments Authorisation Team to provide direction on application requirements before a potential applicant submits an application.   While the Central Bank is not able to provide legal advice to applicant firms, it will provide clarity on its general expectations for application quality and format; operational and business plans; and staffing, governance, and internal controls. Potential applicants are also welcome to use this meeting as an opportunity to seek clarity on any aspect of the application form or the application process.

All firms will be required to return a 'Key Facts Document' at least 5 working days prior to the pre-application meeting. This document is intended to be a summary overview of the firm’s proposed arrangements, and should not exceed more than 5 pages in length, including organisational and shareholder charts. Payments Authorisation’s review of this document does not constitute an assessment, and will not prevent the firm from formally submitting an application for Key Information Check. However, we would strongly recommend that the firm takes under consideration all items discussed during the pre-application meeting, making whatever changes necessary to meet the Central Bank’s expectations prior to submitting an application for authorisation or registration. The duration of these meetings is 45 minutes. Please email [email protected] in order to arrange a pre-application meeting.

Key Stages in the Application Process

Small Payment Institutions

Please note that while Regulation 41 of the PSR provides that the Central Bank may waive all or part of the procedure and conditions set out in Regulations 7 to 40, with the exception of Regulations 25,26, 33 and 35 of the PSR and register a firm as a “small payment institution” as defined therein, the Central Bank has not availed of this discretion. There is, therefore, no small payment institution regime in place in the State and firms wishing to provide payment services are required to apply for authorisation as a payment institution.

Service Standards Performance Reports

Read more about our Service Standards Performance Reports.
The reports set out the Central Bank's performance against Service Standards that it has committed to in respect of

(i) Authorisation of Funds

(ii) Authorisation of Financial Service Providers and

(iii) Processing of Fitness and Probity applications, on a half-yearly basis.