Think of it as money: 1972 style (and other payment stories)

Issue 87 | 11 January 2021

Welcome to issue 87 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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Meet the trailblazers

The Inclusion Foundation highlights that 1.23m of the UK’s most vulnerable do not have access to a bank account and such disadvantaged segments of society find it very challenging to pay and get paid.

They report that the problem is being further exasperated by the social isolation measures put in place to curb the spread of COVID-19, which is having an unintended consequence for the socially vulnerable who also have less access to cash than ever before.

Against this backdrop it is encouraging to read of a Time Out Trailblazer, Lou Walker at HSBC UK:

We’ve pioneered a process that allows people with no fixed addresses to open bank accounts

Lou Walker, customer experience manager, Financial Inclusion and Vulnerability Team at HSBC UK.

According to the housing charity Shelter, a staggering 280,000 people were homeless in England in 2019. As winter sets in, Covid-19 continues to make life even more difficult for the UK’s homeless population. 

Thankfully, there are organisations out there empowering people to break the cycle of homelessness through training programmes, mentorships and the ability to open a bank account. 

In partnership with HSBC UKTime Out is telling their stories.

If you have no fixed address, it can be very difficult to open a bank account. And if you don’t have a bank account, it’s much harder to access benefits like Universal Credit, receive salary payments or secure a tenancy. 

It’s a vicious cycle. The No Fixed Address Service was a follow-on to our Survivor Bank Service, where we opened bank accounts for victims of human trafficking and modern slavery. 

It was such a success that we used it as a blueprint for other groups without accounts. Since organising a pilot in Liverpool in 2019, we have opened in excess of 500 accounts across the UK in collaboration with Shelter, Crisis and local charities like Centrepoint. 

We are all human and deserve to be treated in the same way – it’s amazing what a difference a chat can make. 

We have a member of the HSBC UK team who had been passing a man experiencing homelessness on the street corner near his office every day for years. He always stopped for a chat, and bought him a coffee and a sandwich. Once the service had launched, he provided support by contacting a local charity and opening a bank account for him. 

He made such a difference to this person’s life. 

We all can.

Lou Walker, customer experience manager, Financial Inclusion and Vulnerability Team at HSBC UK.

Discover more: Time Out: Meet the trailblazers.

Podcast: The future of cash

John Howells, chief executive officer of LINK, speaks to James King of The Banker about the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the use of cash in the UK, as well as the outlook for central bank digital currencies and their role in promoting financial inclusion.

Listen to John’s nine minute podcast on the future of cash:

Under pressure: The future of cash

Has cash been cancelled?

On ITV Tonight this week Adnan Sarwar reported on a cashless society – the programme was called: ‘Has Cash Been Cancelled?

As the UK transitions to a digital society it is inevitable that the use of physical cash will decline – a transition that has been accelerated by the COVID pandemic.

Against the backdrop of the views expressed on the ITV programme we share Northey Point’s eight point cash manifesto.

More: Cash manifesto.

Safer payments need service ubiquity 

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 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.


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.

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 - join us in a call for CoP service ubiquity.

More: safer payments need service ubiquity.

SEPA Request to Pay

Mark Munne and Paul van der Valk have updated their RtP guide: “Practical guide to SEPA Request-to-Pay: considerations for banks, payment processors and corporation to join and benefit”.

The European Payments Council has published the SEPA Request-to-Pay rulebook and the new scheme will be operational by June 15 2021.

More: Practical guide to SEPA Request-to-Pay' -considerations for banks, payment processors and corporation to join and benefit.

In Brief

Think of it as money - 1972 style

Great tag line but how times have changed.

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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.

Join the rapidly growing number of subscribers and navigate the UK’s payments landscape with former Bacs CEO Mike Chambers.

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