Payment Initiation Service (PIS)

A Payment Initiation Service (PIS) is a type of financial service that facilitates the initiation of a payment transaction on behalf of a user. This service is typically provided by third-party financial service providers, not by the banks where users hold their accounts. Here’s a detailed explanation of PIS:

  1. Definition and Meaning: Payment Initiation Services allow customers to make online payments directly from their bank accounts without using traditional credit or debit cards. PIS providers act as intermediaries, transferring funds from the payer’s bank account to the payee’s account. They access the customer’s bank account information with the customer’s consent and initiate payments based on the customer’s instructions.
  2. Usage: PIS is commonly used in the European Union and other regions that support open banking. Open banking frameworks, like the one established by the EU’s PSD2 regulation, facilitate these services by requiring banks to provide third-party access to customer accounts through APIs (Application Programming Interfaces).
  3. How It’s Used: Customers typically use a PIS by selecting it as a payment option at an online checkout. They then log in to their online banking through the PIS interface, which securely connects to their bank. After they authorize the payment, the PIS instructs the bank to transfer funds to the merchant’s account.
  4. Users: Both individuals and businesses use PIS. Individuals use it for online shopping, bill payments, and other e-commerce transactions. Businesses use it to receive payments from customers, streamline their payment processes, and sometimes to pay their suppliers.
  5. Benefits: The primary benefits of PIS include enhanced security (as financial data is not shared with merchants), faster payments (transactions are often quicker than traditional methods), reduced costs (lower transaction fees compared to credit card payments), and convenience (simplified and direct bank-to-bank transfers).
  6. Examples/Use Cases:
  • E-commerce Shopping: When a customer shops online, instead of using a credit card, they can choose a PIS option at checkout. They log into their bank account via the PIS interface and authorize the payment. The PIS then communicates with the customer’s bank to transfer funds directly to the merchant’s account.
  • Bill Payments: A utility company can integrate a PIS option on its payment portal. When customers want to pay their utility bills, they select the PIS option, log into their bank, and authorize the payment. The PIS facilitates the direct transfer of the bill amount from the customer’s account to the utility company’s account.

Payment Initiation Services represent a significant shift in the way payments are made, emphasizing the role of digital technology and the importance of secure, efficient transactions in the modern financial landscape.

This page was last updated on December 5, 2023.

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