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LAW FIRMS SET TO BENEFIT FROM NEW CHEQUE-WRITING PLATFORM AND IMAGE SURVIVABLE FEATURES

“Solicitors and other professionals involved with transfers of customers’ money must ensure their own systems are not vulnerable to being hacked and warn customers that last-minute changes to payment accounts are likely to mean fraud is being attempted.”

Katy Worobec, Managing Director: Economic Crime, UK Finance made the statement in her introduction to ‘Fraud – The Facts -2020’ report published by UK Finance in June this year. The report went on to highlight the fact that “cheque fraud losses increased to £53.6m in 2019…. Intelligence suggests the increase was largely a result of fraudsters targeting high-value corporate accounts, where losses per case are typically far higher than on individual customer accounts. Personal customers only accounted for a small fraction of the total losses. This raises the question of whether large firms need to enhance the security features on cheques to deter fraudsters.”

Banks are fighting back with the introduction of Image Survivable Features (ISFs) on both personal and corporate cheques. These features, typically a Unique Coded Number (UCN) or QR code (UCN Plus®) are printed on the face of the document and encrypt details from the cheque to help prevent fraudulent transactions. Introduced since the UK’s cheque clearing process switched to the use of cheque images rather than the transfer of the paper document in clearing, ISFs flag potential fraud in clearing where the cheque details do not match the encrypted information held in the printed ISF.

Leading security print specialists, the TALL Group, who hold the UK patent for the UCN Plus®, working in conjunction with DIA Kappa, the power behind the cheque clearing fraud prevention systems, have worked with the UK’s clearing banks to encourage particularly corporate customers to adopt ISFs on their special cheques. TALL will work with bank customers to advise how the introduction of an ISF can be achieved either on a pre-printed cheque or using in-house cheque infilling systems.

Early adopters, Bott and Co, a multiple award-winning No Win No Fee solicitors based in Wilmslow, Cheshire have installed a complete UCN Plus® solution to enable them to apply the UCN Plus® ISF on their corporate cheques infilled in-house. Gary Froggatt, Finance Director at Bott & Co said that working together with their bank and TALL, they had been able to produce a corporate cheque design that included the UCN Plus®. “We see this as a major deterrent against fraudulent cheque transactions moving forward”, he added.

Whilst larger organisations have been able to deal with recent events, for those law firms that are struggling to make regular cheque payments during the current COVID-19 crisis as a result of their accounts staff working from home, or being furloughed, they can now access a new secure cheque-writing service offered by the TALL Group. The Send-A-Cheque™ service enables partnerships and businesses to simply supply the payment details, via a secure link, and within 48 hours a fully and securely infilled cheque, fully inclusive of ISFs, will be posted back to them for distribution to their clients or suppliers.

The initiative, by the TALL Group, C&CCCo (Cheque & Credit Clearing Company, Part of Pay.UK) accredited cheque printers, also includes an option for law firms to authorise a securely pre-signed cheque meaning it can be sent directly to the recipient. Indeed, it can also be used by law firms that are looking to further reduce overheads within their business moving forward and those with remote locations where a cheque book is not always accessible.

Martin Ruda, Managing Director of the TALL Group, said: “From just one to hundreds or even thousands of cheques, this service acts as an extra pair of hands for law firms, securely creating and distributing cheques on a company’s behalf with a very simple, easy-to-set-up service. It is time-saving, and once the company is set up on our systems, we can offer a rapid service with a same day despatch of cheques.

The inclusion of an ISF, a UCN or our patented UCN Plus®, on the face of cheque will also help prevent cheque fraud. A move that will benefit the industry as a whole.

As a further commitment to make our Send-A-Cheque™ service as accessible as possible to all law firms, we will waive its set-up charges for new users, for at least the next two months.”

 

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GALA TECHNOLOGY SELECTS NUAPAY TO ENABLE OPEN BANKING PAYMENTS

Nuapay, powered by Sentenial, today announces it has been chosen by Gala Technology, a payment security solution specialist, to provide Open Banking payments to its partner network and direct merchants across multiple sectors including retail, hospitality, and financial services.

Gala Technology’s multi-award winning SOTpay ‘Pay-by-link’ solution simplifies PCI DSS requirements and protects merchants against the ever-growing risk of fraud by ensuring that the transactions are authenticated, shifting liability and often lowering acquiring processing costs. SOTpay’s integration with Nuapay’s Open Banking platform now enables them to process non-card payments.

Nuapay’s FCA-licenced Open Banking payments service enables Gala Technology’s partners and merchants to accept payments via any sales channel of choice, including telephone, web chat, SMS and social media. It can do this without requesting sensitive card data, which ensures SCA compliance and eliminates fraudulent chargebacks.

“The capabilities of Open Banking have become more apparent in 2020 as merchants have been forced to explore alternative contactless, mobile and ecom-friendly payment methods that can be accessed quickly and are lower in processing costs, due to a need to respond to change brought by Covid-19.” shares Nick Raper, Head of UK at Nuapay. “We’re thrilled to be working with Gala Technology, as we  have a shared drive to eradicate payment fraud. This partnership will help to increase widespread adoption of live bank transfer payments as SOTPay gives us an exceptional opportunity to demonstrate Open Banking payments’ usability and benefits to new audiences.”

Nuapay is one of the only PISPs which offers a fully inclusive open banking payment initiation, webhook notification and payment account solution; which quickens checkouts, speed-up access to cash flow, reduces processing costs, and enables full reconciliation and batch settlements of transactions. Gala Technology’s customers now have access to new payment innovation and will be able to perform refunds or make instant payouts.

 

Steven Jones, Commercial Director at Gala Technology, said: “We chose to work with Nuapay as their complete Account-2-Account payments capabilities and high customer service levels are unparalleled. Looking forward, Nuapay’s presence within the UK and Europe will greatly help us reach new clients and will extend our service offerings to existing clients too. Nuapay’s Open Banking payments solutions help us to provide a better service; in turn, the time, money and resources our customers save will enable them to focus on growing their businesses in a more profitable way.”

Nuapay’s PISP processor has a single connection to all major banks in the UK and a growing number of connections across Europe, ensuring that Gala Technology’s clients’ payments will be supported, no matter where their customers bank.

 

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THE EMBEDDED BENEFITS IN ESEF DIGITAL FINANCIAL REPORTING

The inclusion of a simple link delivers serious gains in transparency, trust and real time verifiability for the whole financial ecosystem. It’s another digital feather in the LEI’s hat, explains Stephan Wolf, CEO, Global LEI Foundation.

 

In a battle for significance, no other public facing business document can match the annual financial report. It is the document that a public corporation must, by law, publish to describe its operations and financial condition, and to chronicle its activities over the past twelve months. Shareholders, investors and the wider financial ecosystem make innumerable strategic and operational decisions based on its contents.

In today’s digital age, then, it is little surprise that the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has mandated that annual financial reports published from the start of 2020 follow a consistent digital configuration, known as the European Single Electronic Format (ESEF) and, in them, embed their Legal Entity Identifier (LEI).

Stephan Wolf

On first glance, the ESEF format appears to be designed to drive financial report production into a convenient paperless form factor. While this is both true and highly commendable, an ocean of additional potential is revealed by ESMA’s insistence that corporations embed their LEI. This mandate will heighten transparency, enhance trust, and provide instant and non-repudiable verification that the organisation filing the report is, indeed, who they claim to be. These far-reaching benefits are all enabled by the report linking to the filing entity’s verified LEI reference data held within the Global LEI Index.

The simple process of embedding an organization’s LEI  – or, indeed, that of its affiliates, subsidiaries and parent companies – within an ESEF financial report means that regulators, investors, traders and other financial stakeholders, can consolidate and verify information on the filing entity faster and more conveniently than ever before.

LEI reference data includes business card information on an entity, including name and registered address, together with relationship data which confirms if the entity owns, or is owned by, other entities. This increased transparency relative to an entity’s ownership structure means that relationship networks between LEIs can be quickly and automatically established, since the LEIs of the filing entity, its affiliates, subsidiaries and parent companies are all provided in the new machine-readable ESEF format. Usefully, because the reference data is reverified annually by GLEIF accredited LEI issuers, it is always accurate and up-to-date. The net result is a substantially more useful document for end users, which is also verifiably trustworthy, authentic and integral.

ESMA has published the Global LEI Foundation’s 2019 annual report on its website to provide a best practice example of a report published in the ESEF format, which other preparers can reference. The report is published in human and machine-readable Inline XBRL and HTML formats, with LEIs embedded within both the annual report and the digital certificates of the report’s signing executive officers. The combination of these two features provides something completely unprecedented: instantly available, digitally verifiable credentials that confirm both the authenticity of document and the key individuals responsible for its content.1

Beyond the single report, the LEI embedding process creates broader opportunities for the financial ecosystem. Aggregating information on companies from multiple sources is dramatically simplified, making the job of comparing standardized financial information both faster and easier. This can be accomplished either manually, by ‘clicking through’ to view the LEI reference data, or via an automated process, saving yet more time and eliminating the risk of human error. In time, this level of facility will lead to the automated creation of online databases that use the linked LEIs to collate key data assets, to the benefit of, frankly, any person or organization that has interest, globally.

The mandatory embedding of LEIs in financial reports is just one demonstration of this technology’s transformative potential. In broader terms, not only is the LEI shoring up the digital financial ecosystem, it is helping to stabilize the evolution of the world’s digital economy. It is no exaggeration to say that the LEI, together with the Global LEI System, solves the problem of trust for legal entities worldwide. It is the only open, commercially neutral, standardized and regulatory endorsed system capable of establishing digitized trust between all legal entitles, everywhere. It was conceived and designed as a public good, and can be deployed without charge in a wide – and growing – variety of digital use-cases. Put simply, the more it is utilized, the more good it will do.

 

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