Actualidad Costa Rica

Integral reform of the Payment Systems Regulations

Regulation 5825 of the Central Bank of Costa Rica

On 2nd May, the Board of Governors of the Central Bank of Costa Rica (hereinafter, BCCR),adopted a new version of the Payment Systems Regulations with a view to promoting the efficiency of the payment system.

First of all, the regulation contains the reasons for reforming the Payment Systems Regulations. It highlights the need to implement measures that provide greater security and efficiency for users of payment systems (cards, tablets, mobile phones, etc) that use Europay MasterCard Visa (EMV) and contactless technologies, mitigating operational risk in the MONEX service (access to the foreign currency market for dealing in currencies) and extending the cover of the National Electronic Payment System (SINPE) abroad, for foreign-payment and the Transfer of Funds to Third Parties (TFT) service.

The Regulations are broad ranging and regulate many aspects, including the following:

Legislation on money laundering

Compliance with the legislation on anti money laundering (AML) and counter financing of terrorism (CFT) is required. To such end, the owners of IBAN accounts must be identified and transactions arranged through SINPE reported, except those carried out to top-up prepaid cards. These regulations envisage the need to verify the profile of customers on behalf of those making the transactions (know you customer or KYC policy), validating the profile against international lists and having a risk classification model available for their customers: validating the customer of origin and the destination customer.


The Board of the Central Bank adopted a new Payment Systems Regulation in 2015 that included replacing the account numbers previously used within their internal systems. This changeover must be completed by 31st December 2018, in order to facilitate international transactions and the implementation of automated processing.

Mobile SINPE

This multilateral netting and settlement service allows SNIPE members to process their customers’ payments in real time on an account of the customer associated to a mobile phone number. Participants must register the mobile telephone numbers of customers with the BCCR.

Payment devices

The regulations require issuers to guarantee compliance with the EMV standards of their payment devices, obliging them to incorporate contactless technology and allow the Customer to be authenticated using secure mechanisms. They also regulate prepaid devices, allowing issuers to issue them to the bearer up to a monthly deposit ceiling of 100,000 colones – or the equivalent in foreign currency – exclusively for local use.

Rates and fees

Finally, the Regulations include a book on rates and fees, in order to provide the banking system with total transparency. Apart from regulating the procedure for collecting rates and fees, it includes their structure and how they are settled.

This overhaul of the Regulations modernises the system and envisages regulating the way the SINPE and means of payment of systemic importance are organised and operate, under the administration of the BCCR*.

* Art. 50 of the Regulations defines these as infrastructures for the clearing and settlement of funds with at least three members, and which, in the face of an operational failure can generate or transfer negative effects on a greater scale among their participants or create systemic alterations in the set of economic players as a whole.