UK payments processor VocaLink is abandoning its single euro payments area (Sepa) services, blaming "comparatively low" volumes for the project's instruments.
Given the public ownership of many of Vocalinks shareholders, I imagine UK politicans will want to know just how much public money was invested in this failed service, and who will be held to account?
With the end-date coming, SEPA transactions for the EEA are inevitable. This move by VOCALINK seems a definate break with their previous strategy and widen the gap between their product offering and non-UK (potential) customers...which may have been the
aim of its owners.
Martin Wilson, then Head of Vocalink Ventures and now CEO of Luup, and Paul Taylor, now an SVP at Bank of America in London, were the main internal sponsors of this initiative, so it is unfair to mention Fred Bar and not to mention these others, since Fred
inherited a situation that was already unpromising.
It's pretty easy to be wise after the event.
In light of a major regulatory change, it was entirely appropriate for one of Europe's largest processors to develop a strategy and service line for SEPA.
The thing I can't understand is why now? The business committed serious funding and horsepower to growing its European business, and appears to have pulled the plug just when things could be about to take a turn for the better.
Sunk costs aside, the potential margins in exploiting real-time payments (and derived retail/mobile payments) should be much better than SEPA clearing operation could ever be. Ironically, success in this space (and therefore future growth) will be dictated
by the organisations ability to convince it's UK shareholders to take the innovative services it develops.
Faster Payments has real gamechanging potential - but UK bank self interest may mean it is never realised.
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© Finextra Research 2014