TDX Group makes double director hire

TDX Group, the leading provider of data and technology-driven debt solutions for businesses, has appointed James Connolly as UK Business Development Director and Paul Eddie as UK Sales Director.

James Connolly will lead TDX Group’s asset sale services. With over 20 years of industry experience, James will focus on the collections and recoveries lifecycle across lending, retail, water and debt purchase markets, helping creditor clients use the right data, processes and oversight to manage sales of debt portfolios. James joins from Callcredit, where he headed up the collections and recoveries division across multiple sectors.

As UK Sales Director, Paul Eddie will lead the TDX Group sales teams in the UK, with a specific focus on expanding the company’s footprint in the financial services, energy and water sectors. Paul brings a wealth of sales leadership expertise to the role having led the banking and financial services business for Oracle in Australia and New Zealand, and in previous sales leadership roles at Experian and Dun & Bradstreet.

Kirk Fletcher, UK Country Manager at TDX Group, said: “It’s great to have Paul and James joining the TDX Group team at such a transformational time within the market. We’ve secured a number of strong new business wins in the last 12 months and are progressing a variety of new initiatives across the financial services and utility sectors. The extensive experience and expertise of these new hires will be instrumental in bringing our unique proposition to new customers at a time when performance, control and transparency of debt management are paramount to their requirements.”

James and Paul will work closely with Adam Bibby, new Head of Utilities at Equifax, TDX Group’s parent company, to increase the business’ presence in the energy and water markets. Adam will be responsible for growing partnerships and will lead the team developing specialist solutions for utilities clients. Prior to joining Equifax, Adam spent over 10 years with Experian, working within the financial services, banking and collections sectors.

Redwood Technologies Group Shortlisted in Enterprise Awards 2018

Redwood Technologies Group has been nominated for the Enterprise Awards 2018, known as the “Oscars of the Technology Industry”. Now in their eighth year, the Awards celebrate the most successful technology entrepreneurs in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Entrants are judged based on growth, external recognition, innovation, financial management and resolve.

Selection for the shortlist recognises Redwood Technologies Group as an industry-leading provider of omni-channel cloud communications technology. The Group comprises sister companies Redwood Technologies and Content Guru, which earlier this year won the ‘Vertical Market Solution of the Year’ award at the European IT and Software Excellence Awards for work with Serco. A first-mover in the cloud contact centre industry, today the Group supplies services to nearly 1,000 enterprises and government institutions in around 50 countries. Known for its cloud communications platform, storm®, Redwood Technologies Group enables organisations, including the NHS, UK Power Networks and Rail Delivery Group, to optimise customer engagement.

Leeds-based Lowell gets 4th Gold for service

Lowell, the leading European credit management company based in Leeds, has again achieved Investors in Customers’ (IIC) Gold status. This is the fourth year in a row Lowell has gained their highest rating.

The IIC ‘Gold’ is recognised as one of the UK’s leading customer service awards schemes, and Lowell’s Gold status reflects its ongoing commitment and delivery of the highest levels service again.

UK Managing Director, John Pears, said: “I am very pleased for the team here that their hard work and professionalism has been recognised with this award. Every day we try to make a positive difference for people dealing with their finances – this awards shows that we are doing it the right way.

“To maintain this level for a fourth year shows that we have not been complacent and have innovated and improved on what we do, and we will keep doing this to make sure we deliver the best service we can.”

IIC made this year’s award after surveying over 3,500 customers and employees of Lowell Financial, Lowell’s UK arm. The survey assessed Lowell Financial’s understanding of customer needs, and its delivery of services to meet those needs. IIC makes its assessment across a number of key areas including:

• Ease of doing business with the organisation
• How customer feedback is sought and addressed
• Quality and range of services offered e.g. payment solutions
• Clarity of communications
• Getting things right first time
• Overall customer service and satisfaction

New artificial intelligence-driven software has potential to change the customer experience delivered by call centres forever

CallMiner, the leading platform provider of award-winning speech and customer engagement analytics, announced today at Customer Contact Week 2018 the launch of its comprehensive CallMiner Eureka platform and new analytics modules: Analyze, Coach, API, Redact, and Alert. Powered by the Eureka data mining engine, the new modules are built to meet the full range of customer intelligence needs from real-time to post-contact analysis.

Each of the AI-driven analytics modules now leverages the core Eureka data processing engine that was enhanced earlier this year. By consolidating all modules onto a single platform, customers benefit from faster improvements, shared administration, and greater interoperability across the entire product suite.

“Our new analytics modules were aptly named to focus on the key pillars of engagement analytics – Analyze, Coach and Alert, plus API for data integration and Redact for security,” said Bruce McMahon, Director of Product Management at CallMiner. “Deploying all of these modules on the scalable and elastic Eureka mining platform is the culmination of our 2018 goal of a true cohesive platform concept with full product and data integration.”

With the consolidated platform, customer interaction data can now seamlessly transfer from real-time analysis in Alert to post-contact categorization and scoring in Analyze as calls are mined through a single data processing engine, saving both time and cost. In addition to speed, the scalability of the single Eureka engine provides the ability to mine data from tens of agents up to tens of thousands of agents at any given time. Data can also be extracted from or pushed to any of the modules with the real-time ingestion API, a core pillar of the CallMiner SaaS platform model.

Saxo Payments Banking Circle VP of Marketing appointed to the Executive Board of the European Women Payments Network

Miranda McLean, VP of Marketing at ground-breaking financial utility, Saxo Payments Banking Circle since its launch, has been appointed to the Executive Board of the European Women Payments Network.

The European Women Payments Network (EWPN), is focused on championing the skills and expertise of women in the burgeoning FinTech and payments sectors. In particular, through mentorship, leadership programmes, networking events and workshops, EWPN is providing the opportunity for women to learn, network, share and celebrate their achievements.

The appointment of Miranda McLean to the Executive Board signals the EWPN’s ambition to further extend its reach and influence throughout the European business community.

‘”The FinTech sector is, itself, breaking new ground and challenging the status quo”, explained Miranda McLean. “It therefore makes sense for those working in this sector to advocate diversity and inclusiveness – and for women to lead that cause.

“I am tremendously excited to have been appointed to the Executive Board and look forward to working with my colleagues to continue to extend the reach and influence of the EWPN.”

Miranda McLean has built a considerable reputation for developing and executing successful marketing strategies for a wide range of financial services businesses over more than two decades. Starting her career at Thomson Financial, she has also held senior positions at Reuters, Standard and Poor, Lexis Nexis, Equifax and Ukash. In 2015 she was appointed by payments start-up, Saxo Payments, to create the brand identity and marketing strategy which has taken the cross border financial utility to a multi-million dollar business in less than three years.

As a highly motivated marketer, Miranda believes barriers to opportunity only exist if vision is blinkered. She has committed to self-development and improvement at every stage of her career to build a wealth of experience in global and European brand development, execution and management. She aims to bring that enthusiasm and energy to her new role at EWPN.

Martha Mghendi-Fisher, Founder of the European Women Payments Network added: “Since our formation in 2015, we have focused on building a strong network of women working in the sector who can share their experiences to help others to progress their careers. Now we want to take the Network to the next level of influence and Miranda McLean’s experience in the field of marketing will be invaluable to hone our messages and extend our reach.”

UK technology startup Rimilia secures place in Microsoft ScaleUp programme

Rimilia, a leading global intelligent financial automation software provider, has announced a collaboration with Microsoft after being accepted onto the current cohort of the select Microsoft ScaleUp programme.

The Microsoft ScaleUp programme, part of the Microsoft for Startups initiative, connects companies with new customers and channel partners and is underpinned by a $500 million investment to drive innovation and growth. Through a rigorous assessment, Rimilia beat hundreds of entrants to secure a place on the programme, as one of only 12 organisations accepted.

The Rimilia solution automates the complete account receivables process, enabling organisations to control their cashflow and cash collection in real-time, using sophisticated analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) to predict customer payment behaviour and easily match and reconcile payments, removing the uncertainty of cash collection.

Whilst the Rimilia solution integrates with any ERP system, Rimilia already has a number customers on the Microsoft Azure platform including Interserve, Securitas and Rentokil. Rimilia has commenced migrating its global blue chip customer base onto Azure, and recent customer wins are being deployed onto the Microsoft Azure application service, delivering enhanced security, resilience, scalability and responsiveness.

MD Microsoft for Startups, Warwick Hill said: “We were struck by Rimilia’s solution. We constantly look to drive value for both Microsoft Clients and the companies being supported in our ScaleUp program – Rimilia is a perfect example of that sweet spot. The ability for our clients to leverage Rimilia’s solution to automate and digitally transform their accounts receivable and audit processes will drive the co-sell partnership for years to come. The power of Microsoft Azure and Dynamics365, coupled with Rimilia’s specific industry and software expertise is a powerful combination.”

Steve Richardson, CCO and co-founder of Rimilia, said: “We are delighted to be working on the Microsoft Startups programme. Microsoft has been tremendously supportive and professional throughout the whole onboarding process. Having never lost a customer to a competitor the extra “stickiness” of working with Microsoft will consolidate that position as well as create a base to support our ambitious expansion plans.”

Reaction to Welsh Government abolishment of council tax imprisonment

Alistair Chisholm, head of advice sector policy and partnerships at PayPlan, wrote an industry report ‘I can’t believe we still do that’ in November 2017. The report, a joint project between PayPlan and the Institute of Money Advisers revealed:

  • There is a postcode lottery when it comes to prison – only a minority of councils still use court action to imprison council tax debtors.
  • The average debt level of people subject to committal action in court for council tax arrears in 2016/17 was just £2,213.00 – below the level for which the law allows bankruptcy to be considered.
  • Council tax debt is not a crime. People sent to prison for council tax debt have weaker protections in court than criminals. For example, they have no time taken off for good behaviour, and the appeal process is usually very expensive and hard to use.

Commenting on the announcement by the Welsh Government about its intentions to abolish imprisonment for those with council tax debt, Alistair said: “We are delighted by this announcement – it’s great to see that the Welsh Government has decided to change this outdated law. Sending people to prison because they are behind with a bill can be devastating – for them and their families. Prison should be for serious crimes, not local debt.

“I have enormous respect for the women who were sent to prison for council tax debt in Wales who have spoken out about this issue in court and in the media. They have made a huge difference. Our review of councils across England and Wales last year found that the Vale of Glamorgan Council committed 14 people to prison in 2016/17 as a result of council tax arrears, the second highest for a council in the UK. I hope it will be some comfort for these individuals that in the future other people won’t have to suffer being locked up for local debts.

“Those struggling with debt should not feel they are unfairly lumped together with criminals. We hope this announcement will see Welsh councils work more closely with advice agencies and those members of their community struggling financially so that council tax debt collection is proportionate and fair.

“It’s now time for government authorities in England to stand up and take notice of these changes, and get up to speed with counterparts in Scotland and Northern Ireland where this outdated practice is already unlawful.”

Robert Wilson, Chief Executive of the Institute of Money Advisers, adds: “As well as action by government and local councils, we need improved training for magistrates and court staff. Dealing with the growing number of people who have serious money problems requires expertise. Debt is complicated, and officials need an informed, professional understanding of the realities of living with financial difficulty. We would like to see the courts and the Ministry of Justice working more closely with money advisers”.

Business rates appeals from 2010 remain unresolved

More than 133,000 businesses are still waiting for an appeal of their business rates valuation from 2010 to be resolved, council leaders reveal.

More than 1 million businesses have challenged their business rates bill since 2010. The Local Government Association said figures published this month show 133,060 appeals have still yet to be ruled on.

Councils do not set business rates or rule on challenges by businesses making appeals. But the result of appeals is that councils must put money aside from delivering the services that local taxpayers pay for and expect until appeals are decided.

The LGA said councils have been forced to divert £2.5 billion away from stretched local services over the past five years to cover the risk of business rates appeals, as they have to fund half the cost of any backdated refunds.

Ahead of a Westminster Hall Debate today (Wednesday) on business rates, the LGA is calling on the Government to take the financial risk from business rates appeals away from local government.

The LGA said government plans to allow councils to keep more of the business rates they collect, a move which has been long-called for by local government, makes it even more imperative for reform of the system to protect councils from the growing and costly risk of appeals. This is because they may become liable to pay back even more of the cost of any backdated refunds.

Council leaders are also recommending a time limit for appeals, except in exceptional circumstances. In Scotland, there is a six month time limit for businesses to appeal their valuation.

Alongside reviewing the process for appeals and clearing growing backlogs, the LGA is also urging the Government to:

– Modernise the way business rates affect different ratepayers, to ensure that sectors such as online businesses make a fair contribution and that councils are given maximum flexibility on reliefs.

– Tackle the issue of business rates avoidance, which the LGA estimates leads to the loss of £230 million each year.

Cllr John Fuller, Vice Chairman of the Local Government Association’s Resources Board, said: “Ongoing delays in tackling business rate appeals from 2010 are heaping further financial uncertainty and pressure on our local services at a time when every penny counts towards giving councils the best chance of protecting services over the next few years.

“It is right that a business is able to challenge their valuation if they genuinely believe it to be incorrect.

“Despite not setting business rates or ruling on appeals, councils are having to take billions of pounds away from already stretched local services, such as adult social care, protecting children and supporting businesses and boosting local growth, to cover the financial risk and uncertainty arising from this backlog of appeals. This is completely unfair.

“As we move towards a system where councils will keep more of the business rates they collect locally, communities need to be protected from the shifting of resources to address the risk of business rates appeals. With local government in England facing an overall funding gap that will exceed £5 billion by 2020, this money is needed to fund vital services and help plug growing funding gaps.”

SIA the first network provider certified for instant payments of the ECB

SIA is the first Network Service Provider to have acquired certification from the Eurosystem (ECB and national central banks in the Eurozone) to provide access to TIPS – TARGET Instant Payment Settlement – the new pan-European service for settlement in central bank money of instant payments, the launch of which is planned for November 2018.

The startup of the TIPS service will further support the integration and innovation of the market for retail payments in euros.

At present, SIAnet is the only network infrastructure to have passed all the Eurosystem tests regarding aspects of security, performance, reliability and governance. Consequently, European banks and other Payment Service Providers (PSPs) can participate, through the SIA network, in the pilot phase of the TIPS service.

The infrastructure already handles instant payments at European level through the connection to EBA Clearing’s RT1 system, in operation as of 21 November 2017 and with over 1 million transactions carried out with a value of 635 million euro.

SIA thus offers its services as the only access network to both pan-European instant payment platforms – RT1 and TIPS. Thanks to a solution totally managed by SIA which guarantees superfast connections through a new low-latency messaging technology, banks can focus on their core business, reducing the costs and operating impacts related to the management of complex infrastructures.

“The certification awarded by the Eurosystem testifies to the excellence of SIAnet, which meets all the requirements of reliability, speed and solidity necessary for instant payments. Furthermore, it confirms the important role of SIA as primary technology provider in the area of network services, also with a view to the creation of the Eurosystem Single Market Infrastructure Gateway in 2021. The ESMIG project will enable access by banks, via a single interface, to the market infrastructures managed by the Eurosystem, strengthening the cybersecurity and resilience of strategically important systems”, commented Nicola Cordone, Deputy CEO of SIA.

With the launch of instant payments at the tail end of last year, citizens and businesses in 34 countries in the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) can send and receive cash up to a limit of 15,000 euro in a single transaction in less than 10 seconds through a service active 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, in line with the SEPA Instant Credit Transfer (credit transfer with immediate and irrevocable credit) scheme of the European Payments Council (EPC).

Over a third of Brits think the UK will be cashless in 10 years or less

Online research from Equifax, the consumer and business insights expert, reveals over a third (37%) of Brits believe the UK will be a cashless society within the next 10 years. Over half (53%) of 16-34 years olds believe we’ll be reliant on digital and card payments by 2028, compared to just 22% of those aged 55 or above.

However the research shows that while the use of cash is declining1, it still has its fans. In the survey, conducted with Gorkana, respondents said coins are their top payment choice for vending machines (60%), parking meters (57%), charity donations (53%), and buses (52%), and paying with notes is the preference for taxis (42%).

While 46% of people use cash less often that they did three years ago, more than half (54%) of respondents use cash either as or more often, and almost three in five (59%) think shops, cafes or market stalls that only accept cash are convenient.

The findings also highlight that although the use of digital payments via contactless cards and online transactions is growing rapidly1, some people are still wary about security. Over a quarter (27%) of respondents don’t feel confident payments via websites or contactless cards are secure, and 26% think it’s difficult to track money spent using digital methods.

Sarah Lewis, Head of ID and Fraud at Equifax, said: “We’re in the midst of an exciting smart payments revolution. We can pay for our lunch with our watches and passers-by are now able to donate to buskers via contactless. This growth of new payment technologies is drawing us closer to a cashless society, but long standing preferences for cash remain in certain situations, particularly among older consumers.

“The shift to digital payments in the new economy raises important questions about the role of different payment methods, and highlights the need to balance the convenience people want with security. As digital and online payments continue to grow, so too does the associated fraud. It’s vital that new technology is maximised to give people the reassurance they need as they change the way they spend.”