In the age of outsourcing and partnerships, things can go wrong when you are not in control of your own processes. That could damage your brand in many ways.
Post Office has never been a media darling when it comes to payments, although they do provide solid (if somewhat old-fashioned) no-nonsense service: their currency exchange value proposition is quite compelling, and they are about to
move into current accounts to compete with High Street banks.
I decided to check out their Post Office International Payments service just to see whether Post Office is capable of being in the same league as major banks and Western Union.
The service is fulfilled by HiFX and looks good from the rates point of view - HiFX, as their name suggests, is primarily a currency exchange company and their FX profit margin allows them to provide "free" transfers.
I signed up last Friday and was looking forward to experiencing "fast and secure service" (it was the former which was of main interest to me). A few hours later, I was told that my transaction was flagged up for screening. I had an "interesting"
discussion with their customer service - during which they demanded I divulge third party's sensitive data and email them a copy of my passport as part of "Know Your Customer" due diligence.
KYC is KYC, so I agreed to provide them with a valid form of universally accepted photo ID. I went to their Web site to upload a copy of my full UK driving licence only to see the status of my money transfer marked as "completed". I was a happy customer.
Not for long.
On Monday afternoon, an email from HiFX advised me that they... were still awaiting a copy of my passport. And no, the UK driving licence won't do. When challenged, a compliance officer at HiFX failed to explain why they were refusing to accept the UK driving
licence as a valid form of photo ID. As I didn't feel comfortable sending a copy of my passport left and right via insecure email, I closed my account with Post Office International.
Post Office Web site says: "If you know someone who may be interested in using our International Payments service, you could get a £20 M&S Gift Card." Perhaps that money is better spent on retaining their existing customers instead of luring new ones.