Safer payments need service ubiquity

Online edition | 16 January 2021

Welcome to an online only edition of Payments:Unpacked, get to grips with the UK’s retail payments landscape with former Bacs CEO, Mike Chambers - exclusive payment insights, hot topic briefings and fundamentals unpacked.

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Safer payments need service ubiquity

It all stared with a Which? Super Complaint in 2017 demanding that banks in the UK must do more to protect its customers from Authorised Push Payment (APP) fraud.

In 2020 the Confirmation of Payee (CoP) service was launched in UK to help reduce fraud and misdirected payments.

Confirmation of Payee helps protect consumers and businesses from certain types of fraud and misdirected payments by letting them know if the account name they have entered matches the account name of the recipient.

The Confirmation of Payee service seeks to give businesses and consumers greater assurance that they are sending payments to the intended recipient.

Whilst not a silver bullet, the implementation of Confirmation of Payee is expected be an effective way of combatting Authorised Push Payment Scams (e.g. where a fraudster tricks their victims into willingly making a large bank transfer to them).

Confirmation of Payee also helps to avoid payments being sent to the wrong account due to ‘fat fingers’ (keyboard errors) when we type in somebody’s Sort Code and Account Number.

Six months scorecard

Six months after the (extended) regulator imposed implementation deadline for the mandated banks, Pay.UK report that:

A significant number of non-directed PSPs have joined the CoP service since launch and over 1 million CoP requests are now being sent per day. 

Work on CoP Phase 2 is progressing well and will focus on enabling ubiquitous access for all account holding PSPs that choose to participate.

Pay.UK

With the number of accredited CoP PSP’s, matching rates and a roadmap to ubiquity yet to be publicly announced it is difficult assess the level of success CoP has had in reducing payment fraud.

However, it looks promising as back in April Lloyds were reporting an impressive start to CoP success:

Despite the biggest banks in the UK implementing the name checking service, APP fraud levels remain stubbornly flat (£208m half year 2020) and less than 25% of APP based fraud is being recovered.

The introduction of CoP may have flattened the curve on APP fraud but if CoP is working with those PSP’s that implemented it, is a greater proportion of fraud being transferred to those banks that have not implemented CoP?

Why should a bank adopt CoP if it is not mandated?

The following drivers for adoption were highlighted at Bottomline’s CoP webinar on the 12 January:

  • To fully protect customers against APP fraud and misdirected payments.

  • To make payments more frictionless.

  • To counter reputational damage and address customer nervousness when making online payments. This extract from Barclays new terms and conditions certainly outlines a clear liability shift in making payments:

  • To ensure that a bank remains competitive and is not perceived to be offering a second tier payments service when compared with banks that have implemented CoP.

These drivers to implement were rated by attendees of Bottomline’s webinar – the poll votes on why a PSP should adopt CoP were:

  • Protection: 92%

  • Reputation: 48%

  • Competitiveness: 44%

  • Other” 0%

As the first phase of CoP implementation approaches a conclusion there is certainly a ‘rally cry’ for PSP’s to get on the bus and implement CoP. 

Whilst the Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) has the power to mandate CoP for all PSP’s it decided only to focus a mandate on the UK’s six largest payment banks by volume. It is, however, clear that the PSR expects PSP’s to address payment fraud and that market forces will convince the PSR that it does not need to mandate further.

Safer payments need service ubiquity 

Following two very nervous payments over the past couple of months – one to HMRC and one to a company – a ubiquitous and always on Confirmation of Payee service cannot come soon enough. 

Making payments and having to click a number of ‘scam check’ / liability boxes without the comfort of Confirmation of Payee checks puts the payer in an increasingly difficult and vulnerable position. 

More on Confirmation of Payee

Link to the original ‘live date’ CoP briefing from Northey Point: Confirmation of Payee briefing.

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Getting to grips with the UK’s retail payments landscape can seem a complex and daunting task.

The Payments:Unpacked newsletter from Mike Chambers at Northey Point explores a wide range of the UK’s payment news including: Open Banking, Request to Pay, Direct Debit, Confirmation of Payee, Bacs, CHAPS, Faster Payments, LINK, cash, cards and cheques and unpacks the eco-system that supports the operation of these systemically important payment systems.

The newsletter is an independent and informed insight into the UK’s payments landscape – exclusive payment insights, hot topic briefings and fundamentals unpacked.

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Mike