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BACS and Faster Payments privatised to single individual

In a shock announcement BACS and Faster Payments are being run, as of today, by a company controlled by a single private individual. This must be a first for a critical UK national infrastructure.

New Payment System Operator issued a press release this morning to say that "Operational responsibility for the Bacs and Faster Payments systems, which process a combined £6.3 trillion worth of payments annually, has today (1 May 2018) transferred to the New Payment System Operator (NPSO). The move ensures the continuity of operations of the UK’s main payment systems, which are relied on every day for thousands of salaries, benefits, bills, mortgage and other internet and mobile banking payments. Users of these payment systems will not have to do anything differently, all payments are being processed as usual. The transfer of the operational responsibility and control for the Bacs and Faster Payments products and managed services occurs simultaneously with Bacs and Faster Payments schemes becoming subsidiary companies of the NPSO".

This is all very nice and comforting until one consults the Companies House records on 10872449 NPSO Limited, only to find that, as of the same moment, this company-limited-by-guarantee was listed as having just one single member-guarantor, an individual by the name of Robert Stansbury from Oxshott. This individual has been the "person with significant control" since 13th December 2017.

So, as of now, these two payment systems processing £6.3 trillion per annum are in private hands, and not across a broad spectrum of shareholders like a privatised utility with its shares listed on a regulated stock exchange.

John Glen, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, has given an assurance via my constituency MP in a letter of 23rd April that this is no more than a transitional arrangement.

Where is the certainty, though? Is there at least a contract in place with this Mr Stansbury, whoever he is, that he will sign over his sole ownership in due course and without more than minimal consideration?

It is surely outrageous and indefensible that these critical infrastructures should be conveyed into the ownership of a private individual even for one instant.

Comments: (4)

Jonathan Williams
Jonathan Williams - Mk2 Consulting Ltd - Rugby 02 May, 2018, 10:50Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Bob, that is a good point. There were three directors at formation and as of December 18 2017 a sole director was notified as a person of significant control - Mr Stansbury. That situation has not been notified to Comapnies House as having ceased so we must assume that this is stil the case. 

As Sarah Rutherford, asks  "Even if he's extremely virtuous, what would happen if he were to die? Would Bacs PS Ltd and Faster Payments Ltd become part of his estate?". Indeed. How would those assets get assessed for probate purposes?

Given there is now another director who professes to be a Risk Management specialist, you'd imagine that is a risk he's considered.

In any case I  do, fervently, wish Mr Stansbury well; the alternative is inconceivable.

Bob Lyddon
Bob Lyddon - Lyddon Consulting Services - Thames Ditton 02 May, 2018, 11:211 like 1 like

As a natural legal person the individual does not even satisfy the Eligibility Criteria on page 7 of the NPSO's Articles of Association to be a member-guarantor in the first place: as a result the grounds for removal stated in Part 3 para 26 are designed for a corporate member-guarantor and do not even include the normal ones for a natural legal person such as death and being sectioned under the Mental Health Act. The only leverage would come where, in the opinion of NPSO's Board, the individual was not acting in the best interests of NPSO. This determination would then kick off a process in which the member-guarantor has a right to protest. Anyway, the key point is that having a natural legal person as a member-guarantor of NPSO conflicts with the Eligibility Criteria. It is worrying that the dozen or so NEDdies and the NPSO's supervisors (the PSR and the Bank of England) don't seem to have picked up on this. Even if the member-guarantor wants to withdraw, there is a 3-month notice period.

Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune 02 May, 2018, 15:42Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Sounds extremely surreal.

Bob Lyddon
Bob Lyddon - Lyddon Consulting Services - Thames Ditton 02 May, 2018, 16:00Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

And of course the person in question is conflicted by being a NEDdy of NPSO at the same time as owning it. Indeed, as Jonathan indicated above, this NEDdy is the one who has been hired to manage risk. "Physician, heal thyself" (Luke 4.23).