Eagle Consulting Highlights the Need to Protect Payments Infrastructure

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As corporate belts tighten dependency on key personnel and systems increases towards the critical point.

Prevention is better than cure.

In both the public and private sectors the dismantling of systems and empires continues apace. Whole swathes of expertise and procedures are being swept away at a stroke to ensure efficiency targets are met. The inevitable result, whether we are scrapping aircraft carriers or treasury systems is that risk increases. In business that risk is interruption brought about by failure at a critical point. Eagle Consulting receives a regular stream of incoming emergency payment requests that increasingly prove testament to this belief.

Bacs processing is a universal practice in business and the public sector where it is used to process payroll, pensions and supplier payments and to collect revenue through Direct Debits. Such routine transactions occur daily in prolific volumes through various combinations of Corporate and Internet Banking Systems provided by the main banks, Bacs Software installed in Businesses and external Bacs Bureaux all dependant upon communication systems and trained staff to operate and maintain the network of systems and communications. As well as the need to increase efficiency these disparate interconnected systems are also having to cope with rapid change both in the banking sector where individual banks are rapidly developing similar but incompatible payment platforms, but also with an increasing volume of same day (faster payments) and global payments and with a simultaneous growth in mobile electronic customer payments. Fortunately in the UK past investment in the Bacs infrastructure underpins our ability to securely and reliably handle this increasing demand.

At the corporate level the need to create efficiency at a time of rapid change only increases risk which all organisations have a duty to consider. It is no longer the case that banks will readily provide funding to cover delays in Direct Debit collections just as it is increasingly difficult to contact a Bank Manager to seek assistance in making payments when internal systems fail. We operate in an increasingly fast paced and immediate payments world where a failure to make payments is seen as a sign of corporate weakness, unnerving employees, suppliers, customers and shareholders alike. The recent example at Royal Bank of Scotland demonstrates the dramatic impact a simple system failure can have. Regardless of blame such an event can precipitate the demise of a business, loss of key staff and a collapse in trust.

Specific considerations organisations might consider include:

  • How are staff absences managed to ensure the payment systems cannot be compromised
  • Is there a schematic of the treasury network detailing alternative payment routings
  •      What contingencies exist in the event of hardware, software, communications and external

banking failure. How frequently are these put to the test?

  • How will your organisation communicate with affected parties when a failure occurs

Harry Hornby is Director of Eagle Consulting, Chartered Management Accountant responsible for the reliable delivery of Bacs Bureau Services to numerous businesses on a routine and emergency basis.

Eagle Consulting, 15a Harbour Road, Inverness, IV1 1SY
http://www.eagleconsulting.co.uk, info(at)eagleconsulting(dot)co(dot)uk
Tel: 0800 731 5368

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Harry Hornby - Director
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