PhonepayPlus begins consultation on twelfth code of practice

PhonepayPlus, the regulator for the phone-paid services industry, has launched a wide ranging discussion paper on the development of its twelfth Code of Practice. PhonepayPlus is inviting response from industry, consumers and all other stakeholders in order to properly inform thinking as it develops its full Code consultation for later in 2009.

The paper takes into account recommendations made by Ofcom in its recent PRS Scope Review.

The Code of Practice is the document through which PhonepayPlus regulates the phone-paid services industry, enabling it to protect consumers from harm while providing reputable businesses with every opportunity to develop new, useful products and services for consumers to enjoy using their phones.

The twelfth revision of the Code will be among the most significant in the organisation’s 23 year history. PhonepayPlus intends to carry out a thorough examination of the current version to determine how it might be improved, especially with regard to developments in this technologically fast paced industry, such as the explosion of mobile phone-paid services, which have changed the face of the industry in recent years.

Recognising it cannot regulate effectively in isolation from industry and other regulators PhonepayPlus is publishing this discussion paper ahead of an initial draft of the new Code, upon which it and Ofcom will consult later this year.

PhonepayPlus proposes, and explores the impact of, four main changes to its regulatory regime in the discussion paper. These are:

1. That the new Code is based on identifying desirable outcomes, and supporting them with rules where appropriate, rather than prescribing a step-by-step guide to compliance

2. That every business in the phone-paid services value chain will assume an appropriate degree of responsibility for the provision of compliant services and the delivery of consumer protection measures

3. The creation of a database on which all Service Providers (SPs) and Information Providers (IPs) will be registered for due diligence and risk management purposes

4. That providers must have in place adequate customer care facilities to ensure consumers are able to register a complaint and seek redress as quickly as possible

PhonepayPlus chief executive, Paul Whiteing, said: “Development of our twelfth Code of Practice is one of the most important activities we will undertake this year and it is imperative we get off on the right foot. We want to ensure the Code protects consumers in the ways it should do, while enabling reputable providers to offer innovative, compliant services. This is why we have published this discussion paper ahead of a draft of the Code; in order that we might canvass a wide cross section of views from industry, consumers and our peer regulators as early in the process as possible.”

Comments and submissions are invited from anyone with an interest in phone-paid services, industry, including peer regulators, trade associations and consumers. The closing date for comments is 1 August 2009.