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UK NPA Blueprint rubber-stamped

The report (119 pages) on the consultation on the Blueprint for the UK's New Payments Architecture was finally made available on the Payment Strategy Forum website at about 3:30 pm today, on a page that had already been written in advance to say that "In December 2017 the Forum concluded its work and delivered its final Blueprint. Its work has now been handed over to the New Payment System Operator and UK Finance to deliver its vision. The key documents are below."

With that valedictory message the Payment Strategy Forum now appears to have shut down.

The key documents are indeed below, all except the final version of the NPA Design and Transition Blueprint, which will only be released on 13th December. One will only know then whether there have been any changes in the final version of the Blueprint compared to the one that the respondents to the consultation were shown.

There is an event for the Payments Community on Monday 11th December to inform about results of the consultation, on the same day as the Blueprint is formally handed to the New Payment System Operator. This would be the right order-of-play if the PSF and NPSO were not the same people, if they were not already working on the Blueprint's implementation, and if such serious consideration had been given to the consultation responses that there had been alterations to the Blueprint.

One attended an event arranged by an IT company on Wednesday at which the CEO of the New Payment System Operator and a former stream leader in the PSF presented NPA in its supposedly final form: he stated that he had already made the same presentation about NPA many times before...which means that its final form was decided upon well before the report on the consultation was available, and indeed before the consultation responses had even been considered.

Faster Payments - now merged into the New Payment System Operator - is already into the second phase (an RFI) of its tender process for the infrastructure that NPA is to sit on, Faster Payments being a type of Authorised Push Payment. NPA will consist only of a "push rail" and not a "pull rail", the type that cheques and direct debits run on, so all pull rail services and engines seem to be headed for the sidings or the breakers' yard.

The prime breakers' yard for British Rail's nationwide fleet of steam engines was Swindon, of course, on the Great Western Region, but one knows of no connection between Swindon and the New Payment System Operator that could account for the desire to annihilate payment services from an earlier generation of technology.

With all these rails, no wonder the New Payment System Operator requires a board member who is also the Chair of the UK's Rail Safety and Standards Board (and who also boasts chair, trustee or board seats at Southern Water, Zurich UK Life, Age UK, Healthwatch England, the Care Quality Commission,  the Council of Licensed Conveyancers, Soil Association Certification Ltd, the General Optical Council, Colchester University Foundation Trust, AddAction, and the Communications Consumer Panel).

The Care Quality Commission has also been tapped for a second NPSO Board Member, an erstwhile accountant from Taunton (which is about an hour further on from Swindon on the Great Western push rail towards Penzance).

What with this abundance of relevant experience, we can be comforted that the NPSO will be a safe working environment and that medical attention will be close at hand in case any wheels come flying off NPA. 

One has decided to carry out one's own Gap Analysis between the actual consultation responses and the PSF's report on the consultation responses. The main issue about doing this is that the Terms of Use of the PSF website forbid the copying of material posted on it. A waiver has been requested, but if the PSF has closed there may be nobody there to give it.

All one can do now is to await the Payments Community event on Monday 11th December at the former County Hall with expectation and some trepidation: in case we get snowed in, as the weather forecast for Monday is distinctly adverse in that regard.

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