Consumers should have the opportunity to review payments made by mobile phone in as much detail as purchases made by credit card. In addition to that, an upper limit should be set for a consumer's liability for the unauthorised use of a mobile phone for telecommunication services.
Originally developed as a communication device, the mobile phone has since become widely used as a payment instrument. Today, it is comparable to credit cards as a method of payment. The consumer's legal protection should be the same regardless of the technical nature of the payment method.
This principle is also noted in the full harmonisation directive on payment services and the Payment Services Act based on it. Where the use of any payment instrument is restricted to minor payments with lower financial risks, regulation is less strict.
The provisions of the Payment Services Act apply to payments made by mobile phone to sellers other than the mobile phone operator. In other words, it applies to cases where the mobile phone operator acts as a middleman for payment.
If a mobile phone ends up in the wrong hands and is used to make payments, the rightful owner's liability is comparable to that in the case of a lost or stolen credit card or bank card. This was true even before the Payment Services Act entered into force. New in the Payment Services Act, however, is the provision stating that the rightful owner's liability for unauthorised use of the mobile phone to make payments is generally restricted to 150 euros.
This limitation of liability does not apply to other unauthorised use of the mobile phone. The rightful owner's liability for the unauthorised use of the phone for telecommunications services is still not limited. It would be advisable to make these questions of liability consistent by amending the Communications Market Act.
No receipt provided
Under the Payment Services Act, the provider of a payment service has the obligation to provide the payer sufficient information on individual payment transactions. The information provided must be detailed enough to allow for the payer to identify each transaction. The details must facilitate the verification of payment transactions both in terms of their basis and the amounts paid.
The problem with paying by mobile phone is that the existing regulations and their preamble do not require payers to be provided details on the basis of a payment transaction. In other words, the products or services the payer has purchased do not need to be itemised.
While it is true that even a credit card invoice doesn't generally include details on all the products or services included in each transaction, consumers who pay by credit card receive a receipt when making payment, which they can hold on to for checking their credit card invoice at a later time. Receipts generally include an itemised list of the products or services purchased.
When paying by mobile phone, however, there is no receipt. Even if the buyer receives a message or some other type of confirmation of purchase in their mobile phone, they rarely include exact details of purchases and are often difficult to store or print out.
The Payment Services Act provisionwill be applied to payments by mobile phone from the beginning of September onwards. Legislation concerning communications services is presently in the process of being amended. The Consumer Agency's view is that the amended legislation should include accurately worded provisions on the obligation to offer itemised invoicing for payments by mobile phone and thereby give payers the opportunity to verify that all their payments are correctly invoiced. Telecommunications operators would be responsible for ensuring the appropriate implementation of this requirement.