The UK's Payments Council has committed to explore options for incorporating richer data sets alongside business and consumer electronic payment transactions.
The Payments Council says it is in discussion with a number of government departments to explore feasibility including: the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP); HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC); and the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) with Cabinet Office leading on commercial arrangements.
Lord Freud, Minister for Welfare Reform, praised the initiative: “Richer Data means that anyone making a payment could add much more information about a transaction, not just the current 18 character limit. This could bring a wide range of benefits, from allowing automatic invoice reconciliation for business to enabling individuals to see more information with payments they receive. Richer data could also lower the cost to the taxpayer of administering benefits and reduce losses from error and fraud.”
DWP has already identified that richer data could help it more quickly reconcile information it receives in administering the benefits system. It could also offer benefits to individual claimants, making their reporting of financial data to the Department easier.
The announcement comes as the new Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) is preparing to become fully operational on 1 April 2015. The Payments Council says that should there prove to be a feasible and commercial proposal for richer data, the industry will consider bringing this forward for review by the PSR’s proposed Payments Strategy Forum.
Andrea Leadsom, economic secretary to the Treasury, says: “The development of payment systems in the interests of all users is central to improving competition and outcomes for customers; this is exactly why we created the new Payment Systems Regulator. Richer data offers some exciting avenues for innovation, and it is right that government and the industry works together to explore the case for developing these."