21 October 2017
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Faster Payments invites bids for infrastructure overhaul

06 October 2017  |  8007 views  |  5 chequered flag

The UK's Faster Payments is seeking 'Expressions of Interest' from tech vendors for the renewal and management of its back-end infrastructure.

Developed by Vocalink, Faster Payments has been an unvarnished success in the UK following a slow start, but as an early outrider in the move to real-time payments, its technology backbone has begun to appear a little behind the times in the face of evolving cyber-threats and a global push for the implementation of the ISO 20022 protocol as a standard for messaging interoperability across the industry.

The UK's payments infrastructure has also been the subject of intense regulatory scrutiny over hurdles to access for new market participants, culminating in a full-scale review by the Payment Systems Regulator which set out new guidelines on the ownership and competitiveness of central payment systems infrastructure provision.

In July, the Competition and Markets Authority approved consolidation of the operators of Bacs, the Cheque and Credit Clearing Company and Faster Payments Scheme into a New Payments Systems Operator.

Bidders for the ten-year contract will be "required to demonstrate the commitment to excellence in payments processing necessary in order to maintain over a billion secure, immediate payments a year". This number is currently growing by 10-15% year on year.

Those qualifying following the Expression of Interest will be invited to participate in a Request for Information phase, and subsequently invited to submit a full proposal. The winning bidder is expected to be selected in Q3 2018.

Faster Payments chief Craig Tillotson: “This competitive tender process will help ensure the integrity of the Faster Payments Service in the vital role it plays in the UK economy for years to come, supporting our objective to meet the long term needs and aspirations of our customers. It’s also an important milestone on the road towards the New Payments Architecture set to be delivered by the New Payment Systems Operator”.

Comments: (5)

Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune | 06 October, 2017, 19:27

One year to select a supplier?

Faster Payments happened in 2008 but Faster Supplier selection hasn't yet started:)

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Andrew Strong
Andrew Strong - TSB - London | 07 October, 2017, 07:25 For such an integral part of UK payments plumbing I would suggest this an appropriate duration to conduct a thorough RFI process followed by a fair and comprehensive RFP. This will ensure the Faster Payments Central infrastructure remains a safe, secure, stable and successful platform and operation as we move to the next era in the UK’s New Payments Architecture.
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John Quamina
John Quamina - Wipro - London | 07 October, 2017, 13:42 I think one year is tight. We are not intending to replace the platform. We are interested in a platform that will last at least 10 years and facilitate the introduction on new technology and operating models to the industry. Functional requirements may be done but technical requirements could take some time.
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A Finextra member
A Finextra member | 09 October, 2017, 11:45

I really don't understand this, surely procurement for the new payments architecture should be being undertaken by the NPSO for the NPA?  Isn't it best that FPS just continues as-is until the whole thing is replaced?

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Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune | 09 October, 2017, 12:17

@AndrewStrong: I'm not debating the process. I'm only wondering why it can't be expedited. After it's not called Slower Payments:) And, if memory serves, vendor selection took about a year the first time around 10-12 years ago, shouldn't it happen lot faster than that, considering that "agile" has gone mainstream in SDLC now?:)

@JohnQuamina: Please correct me if I'm wrong but functional and technical requirements are written after the vendor is selected. Ergo, their completion shouldn't be a prerequisite for selecting the vendor.

@AnonFinextraMember: I vaguely remember a similar question coming up in the context of MasterCard's acquisiton of VocaLink. Extrapolating from my fading and limited understanding of the answer provided by someone at the time, NPSO is probably not the owner of FPS and will operate whatever FPS infrastructure is given to it by whoever the owner of FPS is.

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