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NEW PAYMENT SERVICES FRAMEWORK TO DE-SCOPE COUNCILS FROM PCI COMPLIANCE

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NEW PAYMENT SERVICES FRAMEWORK TO DE-SCOPE COUNCILS FROM PCI COMPLIANCE

allpay Limited awarded place on new Payment Services Framework, de-scoping local authorities and wider public sector from PCI DSS compliance

UK payments specialist allpay Limited has been awarded a place on a new Payment Services Framework (PSF) led by Shropshire Council, enabling any UK local authority to offer a wide range of PCI DSS-compliant debit and credit card payment solutions while de-scoping their own compliance requirements.

The services provided via the framework – which spans several lots across cash, debit/credit card and direct debit acceptance – will be accessible to other local authorities and the wider public sector as part of a four-year agreement, reducing the estimated £20,000 cost of tendering for such services.

The Framework is being managed by card processing consultancy, the Card Processing Advisory Service (CPRAS) – whose Freedom of Information requests to local authorities last year revealed that more than 65% are not fully PCI compliant and, as a result, are paying significantly high rates with merchant acquirers because of the risk.

As a result, the rigorous procurement to appoint suppliers to the framework saw suppliers evaluated against hundreds of criteria in a competitive due diligence process lasting several months. Under the framework, local authorities and the wider public sector, including universities, Central Government and the private sector, will be able to call off allpay Limited’s services directly and offer the below payment channels to allow their customers to pay bills.

  • Post Office and PayPoint payments
  • Online, Automated Phone, Virtual Terminal (including DTMF masking), Mobile App, SMS and Chip and Pin payments
  • Direct Debits

allpay Limited already provides payment solutions to 160 local authorities and has worked with Shropshire Council since 2007, providing its citizens with access to the PayPoint and Post Office networks for the payment of council bills.

Back in February, allpay Limited retained its PCI DSS compliance, following an annual external audit, and is now a Level 1 Payments Service Provider (PSP).

Nick Peplow, bill payments director at allpay Limited, said, “The new PSF procured by Shropshire Council provides a clear route for a local authority to achieve PCI compliance while significantly reducing their costs and saving further time and resources from avoiding a costly tender exercise. With PCI DSS compliance becoming more complex and onerous for local authorities to manage, this framework provides a way for them to ensure compliance in the most cost-effective way.”

Julia Edwards, Finance Transaction Manager with Shropshire Council, added: “Of course, like every other council in the UK, we need to make financial savings wherever we can. When it comes to accepting debit and credit card payments though, the most important consideration is that we have the most secure and robust system possible. We are delighted that, with CPRAS managing this Framework, we can access not only the great savings that it offers, but also a state of the art payment processing service which can remove virtually all our compliance and security obligations.”

Andrew Flavell, CPRAS Framework Director, said: “When we began designing this Framework, we could not have hoped for a better outcome. For any council that is not PCI DSS compliant, the Framework package provided by allpay offers a range of products allowing them to achieve compliance with minimal overheads. For those that are already compliant, the Framework service package dramatically cuts the burden of maintaining compliance. And in either case, we can achieve this whilst making cost savings of, on average, 30%.”

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Sunak to use budget to expand apprenticeships in England

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Sunak to use budget to expand apprenticeships in England 1

LONDON (Reuters) – British finance minister Rishi Sunak will announce more funding for apprenticeships in England when he unveils his budget next week, the government said on Friday.

Employers taking part in the Apprenticeship Initiative Scheme will from April 1 receive 3,000 pounds ($4,179) for each apprentice hired, regardless of age – an increase on current grants of between 1,500 and 2,000 pounds depending on age.

The scheme will extended by six months until the end of September, the finance ministry said.

Sunak will also announce an extra 126 million pounds for traineeships for up to 43,000 placements.

Sunak’s March 3 budget will likely include a new round of spending to prop up the economy during what he hopes will be the last phase of lockdown, but he will also probably signal tax rises ahead to plug the huge hole in the public finances.

Sunak is also expected to announce a “flexi-job” apprenticeship scheme, whereby apprentices can join an agency and work for multiple employers in one sector, the finance ministry said.

“We know there’s more to do and it’s vital this continues throughout the next stage of our recovery, which is why I’m boosting support for these programmes, helping jobseekers and employers alike,” Sunak said in a statement.

(Reporting by Andy Bruce, editing by David Milliken)

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UK seeks G7 consensus on digital competition after Facebook blackout

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UK seeks G7 consensus on digital competition after Facebook blackout 2

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain is seeking to build a consensus among G7 nations on how to stop large technology companies exploiting their dominance, warning that there can be no repeat of Facebook’s one-week media blackout in Australia.

Facebook’s row with the Australian government over payment for local news, although now resolved, has increased international focus on the power wielded by tech corporations.

“We will hold these companies to account and bridge the gap between what they say they do and what happens in practice,” Britain’s digital minister Oliver Dowden said on Friday.

“We will prevent these firms from exploiting their dominance to the detriment of people and the businesses that rely on them.”

Dowden said recent events had strengthened his view that digital markets did not currently function properly.

He spoke after a meeting with Facebook’s Vice-President for Global Affairs, Nick Clegg, a former British deputy prime minister.

“I put these concerns to Facebook and set out our interest in levelling the playing field to enable proper commercial relationships to be formed. We must avoid such nuclear options being taken again,” Dowden said in a statement.

Facebook said in a statement that the call had been constructive, and that it had already struck commercial deals with most major publishers in Britain.

“Nick strongly agreed with the Secretary of State’s (Dowden’s) assertion that the government’s general preference is for companies to enter freely into proper commercial relationships with each other,” a Facebook spokesman said.

Britain will host a meeting of G7 leaders in June.

It is seeking to build consensus there for coordinated action toward “promoting competitive, innovative digital markets while protecting the free speech and journalism that underpin our democracy and precious liberties,” Dowden said.

The G7 comprises the United States, Japan, Britain, Germany, France, Italy and Canada, but Australia has also been invited.

Britain is working on a new competition regime aimed at giving consumers more control over their data, and introducing legislation that could regulate social media platforms to prevent the spread of illegal or extremist content and bullying.

(Reporting by William James; Editing by Gareth Jones and John Stonestreet)

 

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Britain to offer fast-track visas to bolster fintechs after Brexit

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Britain to offer fast-track visas to bolster fintechs after Brexit 3

By Huw Jones

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain said on Friday it would offer a fast-track visa scheme for jobs at high-growth companies after a government-backed review warned that financial technology firms will struggle with Brexit and tougher competition for global talent.

Finance minister Rishi Sunak said that now Britain has left the European Union, it wants to make sure its immigration system helps businesses attract the best hires.

“This new fast-track scale-up stream will make it easier for fintech firms to recruit innovators and job creators, who will help them grow,” Sunak said in a statement.

Over 40% of fintech staff in Britain come from overseas, and the new visa scheme, open to migrants with job offers at high-growth firms that are scaling up, will start in March 2022.

Brexit cut fintechs’ access to the EU single market and made it far harder to employ staff from the bloc, leaving Britain less attractive for the industry.

The review published on Friday and headed by Ron Kalifa, former CEO of payments fintech Worldpay, set out a “strategy and delivery model” that also includes a new 1 billion pound ($1.39 billion) start-up fund.

“It’s about underpinning financial services and our place in the world, and bringing innovation into mainstream banking,” Kalifa told Reuters.

Britain has a 10% share of the global fintech market, generating 11 billion pounds ($15.6 billion) in revenue.

The review said Brexit, heavy investment in fintech by Australia, Canada and Singapore, and the need to be nimbler as COVID-19 accelerates digitalisation of finance, all mean the sector’s future in Britain is not assured.

It also recommends more flexible listing rules for fintechs to catch up with New York.

“We recognise the need to make the UK attractive a more attractive location for IPOs,” said Britain’s financial services minister John Glen, adding that a separate review on listings rules would be published shortly.

“Those findings, along with Ron’s report today, should provide an excellent evidence base for further reform.”

SCALING UP

Britain pioneered “sandboxes” to allow fintechs to test products on real consumers under supervision, and the review says regulators should move to the next stage and set up “scale-boxes” to help fintechs navigate red tape to grow.

“It’s a question of knowing who to call when there’s a problem,” said Kay Swinburne, vice chair of financial services at consultants KPMG and a contributor to the review.

A UK fintech wanting to serve EU clients would have to open a hub in the bloc, an expensive undertaking for a start-up.

“Leaving the EU and access to the single market going away is a big deal, so the UK has to do something significant to make fintechs stay here,” Swinburne said.

The review seeks to join the dots on fintech policy across government departments and regulators, and marshal private sector efforts under a new Centre for Finance, Innovation and Technology (CFIT).

“There is no framework but bits of individual policies, and nowhere does it come together,” said Rachel Kent, a lawyer at Hogan Lovells and contributor to the review.

($1 = 0.7064 pounds)

(Reporting by Huw Jones; editing by Jane Merriman and John Stonestreet)

 

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