Bacs ordered to open up to businesses and consumers

Bacs ordered to open up to businesses and consumers

The Office of Fair Trading is calling for changes to Bacs Payment Schemes (BPSL), the UK's automated payments industry body, to give consumers and businesses more say in governance and decision-making at the bank-owned utility.

The OFT-chaired Payment Systems Task Force has been investigating the access and governance of the Bacs scheme since 2004. The group was formed as a result of competition concerns around UK payment schemes.

With direct membership of BACS restricted to banks and building societies, the Task Force says the lack of input from businesses and consumers "was a particular concern as Bacs faces no direct competition".

The body has put forward a number of recommendations, including the establishment of an Affiliates Interest Group (AIG) which will act as a forum to brief larger businesses, government departments and other stakeholders on issues to do with the Bacs payment system.

A new consultation process will also be implemented to ensure that any interested party who is not an affiliate is able to contribute its views on BPSL proposals.

The task force also says a new broader objective for BPSL - "to promote efficiency and innovation in payments, responding to user and market needs in an efficient and cost-effective manner" - should be adopted.

Jonathan May, OFT director of markets and policy initiatives and chairman of the task force, says: "Consumers and businesses using Bacs can now have a real voice in the future development of Bacs payments."

Read the Bacs Access and Governance Report here:

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