The UK Payments Council is to set mandatory minimum standards for Faster Payments and customer authentication for online and telephone banking under a new national payments plan.
The revised roadmap comes four years after the first edition of the plan, which ran into controversy over its proposals to abolish the use of cheques. The Payments Council was forced to back down on the proposals following a backlash by consumer groups and politicians.
Burned by the experience, the Council says it has consulted extensively with major stakeholders on drawing up the new blueprint, which picks up on work already in train on mobile and Internet payments, as well as setting out new priorities and research for the future.
Amid mounting criticism of the piecemeal introduction of the Faster Payments service - which promotes near real-time transfer of phone, Internet and standing order payment instructions - the Council says it will define a mandatory minimum service level in 2012 for all single immediate and forward-dated payments. This will include all members setting a minimum agreed value, and informing users of firm timescale within which the payment will reach the destination account.
The Council also says it will develop minimum standards in 2012 for customer authentication on Internet and telephone banking payments in consultation with industry and other stakeholders.
"Once the standards have been developed, we will decide how they should be introduced; communicate what the standards mean for customers; and explain the benefits of authentication," says the Council.
The Council has additionally set firm deadlines for reporting back on new initiatives in mobile account-to-account payments and the development of a service for payments to online retailers by Internet banking. The decision on whether to proceed with either initiative will be made by the end of the year and mid-2012 respectively.
Other ongoing activities include the development of a secure authentication scheme for online access to public services following the UK Government's cancellation of the planned national ID card service. The Payment Council has convened a project team called Operation Gaia (Government Authentication & Identity Assurance), to assess the case for banking involvement in the development. "Discussions are underway," says the Council "and the Government is aiming at initial launches of services during 2012".
For the future, the Council says it plans to conduct a review of micropayments in 2013. It has also asked the Link ATM network to report back by March next year on the feasibility of using cash machines for shareholders to submit instructions to registrars, and the dispensing of tax/welfare payments, or other vouchers/tickets.