UK's new payment system operator appoints Board

Source: NPSO

The UK’s new payment system operator, which has been established to develop the capability and capacity of the UK’s retail payment systems, has today appointed its first five Board members.

• Anna Bradley - Chair, Rail Safety and Standards Board
• Becky Clements - Head of Industry Engagement and Payment Change at Metro Bank
• Russell Saunders - Managing Director Global Payments at Lloyds Banking Group
• Robert Stansbury - previously, Independent Chair of the Payment System Operator Delivery Group
• Peter Wyman - Chairman, Care Quality Commission

The Board will be chaired by Melanie Johnson, who took up the position of independent Chair of the new payment system operator on 1 September, with Paul Horlock taking up the post of Chief Executive on 16 October.

The appointment of these Board members follows the successful creation of the corporate entity for the new payment system operator. NPSO Limited was incorporated on 18 July 2017 as a company limited by guarantee. The first meeting of the new Board will take place on 11 October, with four further members to be appointed in the coming months.

The intention behind the creation of the new payment system operator is to achieve the consolidation of Bacs Payment Schemes Limited (Bacs), Faster Payments Scheme Limited (FPSL), and the Image Clearing System (ICS), which will replace the paper processing system for cheques currently managed by the Cheque and Credit Clearing Company (C&CCC). These retail payment systems, which process over £6.4 trillion pounds of payments every year between them, will be joined by UK Payments Administration, which provides the people, facilities and expertise to support the systems behind the payment system operators.

As a single entity, the new payment system operator will build on the achievements and successes of the existing payment schemes and progress their well-defined strategies for the benefit of the UK economy. In addition, taking an over-arching view of the retail payments sector will enable the new payment system operator to deliver greater efficiency, more innovation and fair and equal access to payments and the infrastructure that facilitates them.

Melanie Johnson, independent Chair of the new payment system operator, said: “The new board reflects the experience needed for the establishment of the new payment system operator, providing a strong foundation for the future. The new members of the board bring a wide range of expertise to guide and deliver change successfully while maintaining a focus on service delivery.”

Comments: (1)

Bob Lyddon
Bob Lyddon - Lyddon Consulting Services - Thames Ditton 05 October, 2017, 16:481 like 1 like

Surely it is quite wrong for anyone who has been involved in the Payment Strategy Forum New Payment Architecture stream to move straight onto the board of the organisation charged with delivering it (NPSO)?

In the minutes of the July meeting of the PSF two individuals, who now have senior positions at NPSO, were noted as making important interventions wearing their previous hats at a time when they must surely have known that they would shortly be wearing hats of the organisation that they were then devising the requirements for.

One was actually the person in charge of the NPA stream and Blueprint. The other made an intervention about risk management. In both cases these interventions can be read as adding assurance that the project will go forward and their new seats will be available for them.

Where is the transparency? These people should have declared their interest as soon as they knew of it, announced it at a PSF meeting, had it recorded in the minutes and immediately recused themselves.

This adds to the impression that there is no chance of meaningful changes to NPA or even abandonment of it as a result of the "consultation" which has just closed. The same meeting minutes from the PSF July 12 meeting show that attendees, when addressing the PSF’s H2 2017 programme plan, felt it was necessary to insert a task absent from the papers they were looking at: “FR and DG noted that ‘handover’ should not just entail a consultation response document but a final and detailed NPA blueprint, that builds on the consultation responses and the further design work being undertaken in H2”. In other words the envisaged task was to send a report on the consultation but not alter the Blueprint.

The H2 PSF programme plan is very light on analysis of the consultation responses, rather than collating what they were: the Blueprint is to be handed over to NPSO in final form in December, it is now October. Presumably collating the consultation responses will take a month - leaving at most one month to think about and address the consultation responses, and propose and agree changes to the Blueprint based on them.

Indeed, the action point taken away by EY from that note in the July minutes was simply “EY to ensure that the final ‘handover’ deliverable is a final and detailed NPA blueprint” and this was the only open item in the PSF Action Log presented to its meeting on 29th September, but without the critical condition “that builds on the consultation responses and the further design work being undertaken in H2”.

This evidence plus the condensed timescale preclude any possibility that the Blueprint will be meaningfully altered, let alone abandoned, as a result of the consultation responses so the consultation is in essence an awkward inconvenience before the PSF's team on NPA can settle into their new seats as the NPSO team on NPA.

The Programme Update given to the PSF 29th September meeting pre-disclosed impressions of the consultation reponses on two sub-streams (Trusted KYC Data Sharing and Payments Transaction Data Sharing and Data Analytics).The PSF was advised that the consultation responses were supportive, so that the planned actions subsequent to the consultation could be put in hand at once, although there is a wave in the direction of having a further glance at the responses.

This is quite a wrong of going about things.

A proper analysis of the responses should be made available to all interested parties and at the same time, with access to underlying data, but instead we have partial and edited results being leaked to the project sponsor and actions being taken as a consequence.. and we don't have enough distance between the people writing the requirements (PSF) and the people delivering on them (NPSO).

Once a proper consultation report is available, there should be a process where the consultation responses are debated and processed, and the Blueprint adapted, but that is clearly not the intention of the PSF and the NPSO, and both the timing and the evidence point to a rubber-stamping exercise.

This is quite wrong for a project that has national importance.