The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) recently issued new regulations aimed at governing entities that facilitate cross-border payment transactions for the import and export of goods and services. These regulations bring all such entities under the direct regulation of the RBI and classify them as Payment Aggregator-Cross Border (PA-CB). In this article, we will delve into the details of these regulations, their implications, and what entities need to do to comply with them.
Understanding the Scope of the Regulations
Under the new regulations, entities involved in processing or settlement of cross-border payment transactions for import and export activities must comply with the instructions laid out by the RBI. This includes Authorised Dealer (AD) banks, Payment Aggregators (PAs), and PAs-CB. Previously, RBI regulated cross-border payments through ad-hoc circulars, but with the developments in this area, the central bank decided to bring all entities facilitating such transactions under its direct regulation.
Applying for Authorization
To operate as Payment Aggregators for cross-border transactions, non-banks must apply for authorization from the RBI by April 30, 2024. This authorization is necessary for entities to offer cross-border payment services. The RBI has categorized the authorization into three types: import-only, export-only, and both import and export. Non-banks already providing these services should inform the RBI about their existing PA-CB activities within 60 calendar days from the date of the circular and seek approval to continue these activities.
Prerequisites for Authorization
Before applying for authorization, non-bank PA-CBs must register themselves with the Financial Intelligence Unit-India (FIU-IND). This step ensures compliance with anti-money laundering and financial intelligence requirements. Additionally, PA-CBs should have a minimum net worth of ₹15 crores at the time of applying for authorization, increasing to ₹25 crores by March 31, 2026. This net worth requirement aims to ensure the financial stability and credibility of the entities.
Rules for Import-Only PA-CBs
Entities operating as import-only PA-CBs must maintain an Import Collection Account (ICA) with an AD Category-I scheduled commercial bank. Payments for imports should be received in an escrow account of the PA-CB, which will then transfer the funds to the ICA. PA-CBs should not facilitate payment transactions for the import of restricted or prohibited goods and services. If the value of goods/services imported exceeds ₹2,50,000 per unit, the PA-CB must undertake due diligence of the buyer.
Rules for Export-Only PA-CBs
Export-only PA-CBs should maintain an Export Collection Account (ECA) with an AD Category-I scheduled commercial bank. The ECA can be denominated in Indian Rupees (INR) and/or foreign currency. All export proceeds should be credited to the relevant currency ECA of the PA-CB. Similar to import-only PA-CBs, export-only PA-CBs should not facilitate payment transactions for the export of restricted or prohibited goods and services. Settlement in non-INR currencies is permitted only for merchants directly onboarded by the PA-CB.
Rules for PA-CBs Facilitating Both Import and Export
Entities facilitating both import and export transactions must follow the rules applicable to both categories. They should maintain separate collection accounts, an ICA for import transactions and an ECA for export transactions. These accounts ensure proper segregation and management of funds for each type of transaction.
Compliance Deadline for Banks
While AD Category-I banks do not require separate authorization to undertake PA-CB activity, they are required to comply with all the other requirements specified by the RBI for PA-CBs by April 30, 2024. This ensures uniformity and adherence to regulations across all entities involved in cross-border payment transactions.
Maximum Transaction Value and Other Instructions
The circular issued by the RBI also states that, for import and export transactions processed by PA-CBs, the maximum value per unit of goods/services sold or purchased should not exceed ₹25,00,000. This limitation ensures that the transactions fall within manageable parameters and reduces the risk associated with high-value transactions.
The new regulations introduced by the RBI for cross-border Payment Aggregators bring greater accountability and regulation to entities facilitating import and export transactions. By directly regulating these entities, the RBI aims to ensure transparency, financial stability, and compliance with anti-money laundering and financial intelligence requirements. PA-CBs, AD Category-I banks, and other stakeholders must fully understand and comply with these regulations to operate within the framework defined by the RBI. These measures will strengthen the cross-border payment ecosystem and contribute to the overall growth and efficiency of India's international trade activities.