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“Seize the opportunities of payments reform,” advises Eiger Systems at Payment Strategies 2006

400 delegates from European corporates gather to debate BIC and IBAN, Faster Payments and SEPA

Rugby, UK: 31 May 2006 : “Change in the payments market-place may be unrelenting in its scope and impact but that shouldn’t prevent corporate organisations from seizing the opportunities presented by change and reaping the benefits of improved efficiency, reduced risk and enhanced customer service.” That view, expressed by Eiger Systems’ Principal Market Strategist, Jonathan Williams, set the tone for ‘Payment Strategies 2006’ held on Thursday 25th May at The Heritage Motor Centre, Gaydon, Warwickshire. Hosted by Eiger Systems, the leading developer of strategic payment solutions, and attended by 400 corporate delegates, ‘Payment Strategies 2006’ also featured presentations by Deloitte, Voca, Norwich Union, BT and analysts, TowerGroup.

United under the theme of “Optimise, Prepare, Comply”, ‘Payment Strategies 2006’ sought to walk delegates through the complexity and multiplicity of UK and European change in the payments market place.

Opening the programme, Malcolm Durney, Banking Technical Authority at Norwich Union Life, gave a brief history of his company’s optimisation of payments processing through the implementation of BACSTEL-IP, the new IP-based platform for submitting payment files to BACS. With over one thousand companies within Aviva plc and transaction volumes of up to 1.5m per day, technology plays a crucial role at Norwich Union Life in reducing transaction costs to acceptable levels within a very complex corporate environment. Despite very rapid growth since its days as General Accident, the adoption of appropriate technology has enabled Norwich Union Life to contain payment processing staff numbers to 1998 levels.

Richard Cooper, Commercial Director of Voca and Ralph Silva, Research Director at TowerGroup took the agenda forwards and encouraged delegates to prepare for the changing payments landscape in Europe. This includes the Faster Payments initiative in the UK, increasing market consolidation and the move towards a Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA). Richard Cooper emphasised the transition towards multiple pan-European ACHs and the implications of this for corporate organisations. Ralph Silva approached the issue from the bank’s perspective, and called on the industry to adapt to the diverse needs of local practice and culture within Europe. The SEPA infrastructure must reflect and protect differences within Europe and avoid inadvertently imposing monochrome solutions of European businesses.

It fell to Jonathan Williams, Principle Market Strategist at Eiger Systems, to provide delegates with a detailed assessment of the next raft of changes within the European payments industry and the key implications for systems. Jonathan considered all the potential benefits and challenges and, in particular, the need for organisations to adopt BIC and IBAN data formats mandated by the European Payments Council. “There are less than seven months before 1st January ‘07 when the banks can start rejecting payments that do not contain account data in BIC and IBAN format,” he cautioned. “The cost of failing to use a valid BIC and IBAN by the January ‘07 deadline – in terms of rejections, charges and declining customer service levels - will far exceed the cost of adapting existing payment systems now to handle BIC and IBAN data automatically.”

Compliance was the final theme of ‘Payment Strategies 2006’ with Ian Foottit, a Director at Deloitte, and Richard Gous, Banking Operations Manager from BT Group Treasury providing contrasting images of the impact of compliance and regulation on the payments sector. Ian Footit guided delegates through the plethora of regulation and compliance requirements that impact corporate organisations. Richard Gous balanced this with an insider’s perspective, providing delegates with practical examples of how compliance has affected BT’s operations.

Payment Strategies 2006 was supported by Oracle, IBM, LogicaCMG and Perot Systems and by all the major UK banks: Bank of Scotland, Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds TSB and RBS.