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Mobile payment, what restrictions?

Mobile payment is more and more in the radar of IT companies and even Apple apparently will launch soon their mobile payment platform. However, what regulatory restrictions are applicable to the after the EU PSD Directive?

In particular, mobile carriers and providers of services are willing to enable their users to pay for the purchase of goods and services through the funds available on their SIM card which in the case of pay-as-you-go phones would also allow to check the amount spent just as occurs in the case of prepaid cards.

However, such solution faces some restrictions as the EU PSD Directive limited the offering of payment services to banks, e-money issuers, payment institutions providing an exemption for “payment transactions executed by means of any telecommunication, digital or IT device, where the goods or services purchased are delivered to and are to be used through a telecommunication, digital or IT device, provided that the telecommunication, digital or IT operator does not act only as an intermediary between the payment service user and the supplier of the goods and services“.

However, as far as Italy is concerned, the Bank of Italy considerably limits the scope of such exemption clarifying that it is required, among others, that payment operations relate to the purchase of digital goods or services (i.e. the purchased good is not functional to the usage of services in the real world). Therefore, for instance the purchase of mobile apps and possibly even virtual currency might fall within the scope of the exemption, but a cinema ticket would not.

This restrictive interpretation has recently become more flexible when the Bank of Italy allowed the purchase of bus tickets in Florence through the mobile credit. This new approach might lead to considerable new opportunities in the sector. Also, the term “digital good/service” has no definition and therefore or will be open to different interpretations.

We will see the future of the sector, but n the meantime feel free to contact me, Giulio Coraggio if you want to discuss the above, also follow me on Twitter and become one of my friends on LinkedIn.


IT, gaming, privacy and commercial lawyer at the leading law firm DLA Piper. You can contact me via email at giulio.coraggio@gmail.com or giulio.coraggio@dlapiper.com or via phone at +39 334 688 1147.

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