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The year ahead at PSA

10 May 2018, Joanne Prowse, CEO

We will be continuing with our proactive and collaborative approach – monitoring services, gathering market information, and applying our Code flexibly in relation to market developments. We will be engaging key groups of stakeholders in our regulation, to keep us alert to emerging opportunities and challenges.

Engaging with industry

We’ve been evaluating our registration requirements for new entrants to the phone-paid service market, as well as existing providers. A key aim of this review is to ensure that we get the information we need from providers to give clarity and confidence to consumers.

We're also looking into our regulation of subscription services. A high proportion of the complaints we receive relate to services attracting a recurring charge, with too many consumers complaining that they were unaware they were signing up to a subscription service. This review will start later in the summer.

We are working with a number of the Mobile Network Operators on a research project into the security of billing platforms. It's vital that consumers are not charged without their consent. The research project findings will inform policy development in this area.

We also want to continue to support industry in bringing compliant new services to market- such as Society lotteries. We are aiming to publish our statement in response to our consultation on proposed Special conditions for Society lottery services this quarter. At the moment, we are assessing your responses to take into account in the final statement.  We are also pleased to see the first ticketing services emerge following the implementation of PSD2 in the UK. We are always open to hearing views from the market and keen to support compliant new services such as these.

Engaging with consumers

A perennial challenge for a regulator like PSA is getting consumers heard and putting their interests at the heart of what we do.  There are a number of ideas on the table for how we can do this, including implementing a new, more user-friendly website which should be ready for launch by the end of the summer, and setting up a new, cost-effective consumer panel to act as a representative voice for consumers in relation to our work.

More immediately, we're reviewing refund mechanics with a view to making it easier for consumers who are eligible  to get their money back. We think it's important for building confidence in the market that the refund process is smooth, responsive, and user-friendly.

Engaging with government and other regulators

As you might expect, we've been working closely with Ofcom on areas where both organisations have a regulatory interest.  We have been supporting Ofcom’s review of regulation of Directory Enquiries services. We expect to publish fresh proposals as a consultation later this quarter.

We have also been working closely with Ofcom on the closely related issue of the regulation of Information, Connection and Sign-posting Services (ICSS).  At present, ICSS delivered on the 09 or 087 number ranges are regulated by PSA, while ICSS on the 084 number range are not.  Ofcom is currently considering the case for bringing all ICSS under PSA regulation.  We are supporting their consideration, including by providing evidence in the form of new research from the University of Nottingham into consumers’ actual behaviour when searching for customer service helplines.

And importantly, like many of you, one of our current priorities is making sure we are compliant with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that comes into effect towards the end of May. As a regulator, we handle significant amounts of personal data and it is of paramount importance to us that we take this responsibility seriously.

These are just some of the areas of work we have planned to deliver. This promises to be another busy and exciting year and, I hope, a successful one for the industry.