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Voca completes UK payments system overhaul

17 July 2006  |  8168 views  |  0 Source: Voca

The core system at the heart of the UK's 5.5 billion, £3 trillion automated payments has been completely replaced without missing a beat.

The Voca Payments Engine was developed and implemented in a massive IT programme coordinated between Voca and the UK banking industry.

The innovative system was built by Voca, the provider of payments services, on behalf of BACS Payment Schemes Limited (BPSL) and its 13 member banks. It will handle the growth in UK electronic transactions, enable banks and Voca to deliver new payments services and support the wider industry as it migrates to the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA).

The Voca Payments Engine, which processes the UK's Direct Debits, Direct Credits and standing orders, was completed on schedule and without the general public being aware of the change. The success of this overhaul is a testament to the skill, hard work and commitment of everyone involved: Voca, BPSL, the banks and 100,000 corporate users. The Voca Payments Engine is part of the Critical National Infrastructure and underpins the UK economy, processing over 90% of the country's salaries, 70% of household bill payments and the majority of state benefits. Any loss of service would have had a major impact on the national economy.

On the surface, UK payments, numbering 5.5 billion with a value of over £3 trillion last year, continue to flow as before. However, the engine processing them has been exchanged for best of breed technology and is easily capable of supporting the 12% year-on-year growth in UK automated payments. This scalability also means the Voca Payments Engine can process the equivalent of the entire daily automated payment volumes of the European Union in four hours.

Designed with SEPA requirements in mind, the Voca Payments Engine is flexible enough to handle cross-border, multi-currency payments, crucial in the changing payments landscape. With the innovative new system, Voca is capable of supporting the banks across Europe as they embark on the migration to SEPA, taking away the pain of making this important change.

Voca has replaced its old mainframe system with a scalable, flexible and resilient open standards technology stack based on BEA Systems, Sun and Oracle. The Voca Payments Engine is one of the largest J2EE business applications in the world. In addition to supporting increased transaction volumes, the technology provides improved security, flexible clearing cycles, 24x7 capabilities and IP based submission channels.

Steve Grigg, chief operations officer of Voca, said, "This was no ordinary IT programme. It was of significance not only to Voca but also to the wider banking community. It's one of the largest and most complex IT programmes ever undertaken in the UK and represents a fundamentally different approach for the banking industry."

He continued: "The way the system is designed provides high availability and resilience with no single points of failure. What's more, the flexibility of the system allows us to be responsive to the evolving needs of banks and corporates in the future."

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