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.”

Content Guru Scores Top Marks in New Education Framework

UK-based customer engagement technology leader, Content Guru, has been enlisted into the new Education Framework, where it will make its award-winning cloud communications services available to members of Crescent Purchasing Consortium (CPC). CPC provides specialist procurement advisory and contract management services to the UK’s Further Education and Higher Education sector, as well as to schools and Academy Trusts. In total, CPC serves members in more than 5000 separate institutions, from Chesterfield College to Cardiff University.

Content Guru will supply services for two lots – ‘Integrated & Unified Communications Solutions’ and ‘PABX Systems, PSTN Lines, Call Packages and Billing Solutions’ – through CPC’s procurement partners, Northern Procurement Group Ltd (NPG). The customer engagement company’s ubiquitous cloud platform, storm®, Europe’s largest communications integration facility, was selected on account of its field-proven delivery of omni-channel services to educational organisations around the world. Content Guru’s client portfolio in the sector includes UCAS and King’s College London, which use storm’s scalability to seamlessly handle spikes in demand whilst delivering service continuity, including on A-Level results day.

Martin Taylor, CMO of Content Guru, commented: “The Education Framework represents an important strategic step forward in the provision of high-quality communication capabilities for educational establishments. The Content Guru team is looking forward to introducing the UK education sector to our world-class portfolio of cloud communications solutions, which hundreds of large private-sector organisations use to power their customer engagement. This new framework will allow us to unlock enterprise-grade capabilities for education at an accessible price point.”

Steve Davies, Director of Procurement at Northern Procurement Group, commented: “We are delighted to welcome Content Guru onto the Education Framework. With an increasing breadth of services, we are constantly looking to recruit suppliers who can push the boundaries and deliver a high calibre service to all our members. I am excited to see how proven services will transform the way the sector communicates.”

CSA confirms programme for 2018 UKCCC with key focus on technology

The Credit Services Association (CSA), the voice of the UK debt collection and debt purchase sectors, has confirmed the full programme for this year’s UK Credit and Collections Conference (UKCCC), including a keynote address by Romana Pearson, Head of Consumer Credit at the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

The conference is divided into morning and afternoon plenary sessions, including a panel debate on the pros and cons of Fintech, and a discussion on how to resolve the issue of mounting consumer debt. Between the plenaries, delegates will have a choice of five breakout streams, including two streams devoted to technology and innovation, as well as Compliance & HR and International Relations. Although 25 May has passed, and GDPR is now in force, as an industry, there is still a lot of work to do. Delegates will also have the chance to attend a number of dedicated GDPR workshops delivered by Toni Vitale of Winckworth Sherwood, focusing on the regulator’s current and future priorities, fines, and some of the challenges with compliance, all to help reassure businesses that they are still on the right track.

Within the technology and innovation streams specifically, experts will discuss such issues as Payment Initiation Services (PIS), the role of Artificial Intelligence and machine learning, and how Open Banking applies to businesses large and small. The much-heralded Senior Managers and Certification Regime (SMCR) will be a particular focus within the Compliance stream, whereas the International Relations stream will explore the practical impact of Brexit on collections and provide an update on the new FENCA Code of Conduct.

The GDPR stream will be split into three workshops: the first looking at the current and future priorities of the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO); the second exploring the challenges of regulation compliance; and the third outlining future Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR).

As well as the conference programme, this year’s event will play host to the 2018 Credit and Collections Technology Awards to recognise excellence and innovation in the UK credit and collections industry. It also reflects the Association’s growing recognition of technology as being vital to the future success of businesses in the sector. Entries for the awards are now open.

Payments community calls on Government to show courage in supporting the UK payments industry

The Emerging Payments Association (EPA) has today published its response to HM Treasury’s (HMT) call for evidence on cash and digital payments in the new economy. The response lists a series of recommendations from the payments community on how government can encourage consumer adoption of new innovations and how the UK can become a less-cash society.

EPA members call upon HM Treasury, and government, to further develop an environment that fosters investment for innovations in the sector and to seed the subsequent waves of digital payments services. The community also commends UK regulators for continuing to create an environment which enables strong innovation and competition between payment providers to deliver great propositions for end users.

The EPA highlights the importance of a continued focus on financially including all user groups and states that the payments industry needs to engage customers who are not using digital payments today to ensure that the benefits of digital payments are spread fairly across society.

The response also details the FinTech community’s position on cash, noting that there is a long-term need for cash but highlighting that government and regulators need to do more to deliver appropriate security measures for cash payments – equivalent to the demands for security for digital payments.

EPA members have requested that government and regulatory bodies should actively engage with the payments industry to influence the scale of opportunity for developing digital payment services, enabling further growth of cashless payments and support the industry’s digital inclusion agenda.

The industry also recognises the need for consumers to be fully engaged in understanding the opportunities and benefits of moving more to digital payments in order for ongoing cash reduction to be achieved.

‘We’re entering the most exciting phase in the evolution of payments,’ says Tony Craddock, Director General of the Emerging Payments Association. ‘The stars are aligned for the UK to show the world, that with the UK government’s support, everyone moving money can benefit from new payments technology.’

Claims companies rush for profits before a new regulator takes hold

On 5th June the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) published a consultation on regulating Claims Management Companies (CMCs) when they fall under the remit of the FCA on 1st April 2019. It is expected that a great many of them will fail to obtain FCA authorisation once the new regulator examines their practices. In March 2018 there were 594 claims management companies operating in the financial services sector alone.

So there is a rush to make profits whilst there is still time. CMCs are supposed to be registered with the existing Claims Management Regulator (CMR), but published figures show that in the year to March 2018, 602 businesses were notified to the CMR as suspected of unregistered (and therefore unregulated) trading. The CMR sent 90 warning letters to unregistered firms, investigated 8, removed 5 websites and cautioned just one firm.

Additionally, since April 2013, the regulator has visited 1384 registered CMC’s with around 100 found to be in breach of a ban on referral fees alone. Twenty-two warnings were issued but no fines were imposed and only one licence was revoked.

The big question is whether law firms will be caught by FCA regulation, or shelter under the supervision of the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority (SRA)? Two regulators with different rules controlling the same activity could lead to significant gaming by some firms to avoid restrictions on their current practices.

A thematic review published by the SRA indicated that some law firms charged as much as 50% of the total claimed for clients. Lenders said that some firms submitted large numbers of pro-forma complaints. This is a common trend by claims management companies and no-win no-fee lawyers. Large numbers of pro-forma complaints are made to financial services firms with little or no detail – sometimes even when the firm has made no loan at all to the complainant! The hope is that the firm will be swamped with claims and simply make pay-outs without checking the circumstances. Some firms have received communications from legal firms threatening court proceedings in respect of alleged mis-selling of loans when there has been no previous customer complaint at all.

A MoneyCheats spokesperson said: “Many claims management companies and no-win-no fee lawyers are persuading people to make false or inflated compensation claims. They often take 25%-50% of any pay-outs. ​Sometimes they demand upfront fees of hundreds of pounds which are not always refunded when claims fail. Many are flouting regulatory rules to investigate the existence and merits of each element of a potential claim before presenting it, but rather send out hundreds of speculative, unsubstantiated, claims in the hope of pay-outs. Now they are intensively rushing to make profits before they become regulated by a much tougher regime in 2019 when they will need to be authorised and supervised by the FCA.

“The current situation cannot be right. Compensation should be paid to those who have genuinely suffered detriment. There should not be a profit making enterprise either for the complainant, a claims management company or a no-win-no-fee lawyer. The cost of goods and services rises for decent people because of unjustified pay-outs and the staffing costs of complaints handling. People with justified compensation claims are being delayed because claims staff are overloaded and the Financial Ombudsman Service, whose new streamlined approach to speed matters up, has attracted much criticism from complainants and firms alike for unfair results.

“It is time to de-rail this gravy train which is careering dangerously out of control.”

Hanse Orga Group Rebrands, Now Renamed Serrala

Hanse Orga Group, an international provider of solutions for inbound and outbound payments and related finance processes, today unveiled its new name and brand: Serrala.

“Through our M&A activities over the last year and a half, four new companies joined forces with us, including SOPLEX Consult and Tembit Software in Germany, and Dolphin Enterprise Solutions and e5 Solutions in the US. This has been a great contribution to our product portfolio and growing business delivering added value to clients. As a global company uniting several unique entities, it was important for us to rebrand under one joint name and to communicate with one voice with our customers, partners and interested organizations”, explains Sven Lindemann, CEO of Serrala.

“We have received a lot of positive feedback concerning our new strategy, especially among existing customers and prospects”, says Lindemann. “Serrala’s broader solution and service offering and greater technological diversity now includes cloud and hybrid solutions and managed services, for both SAP and multiple ERP systems. This new approach is a huge plus for companies that operate using a patchwork of disparate enterprise systems. We are uniquely able to provide our clients with powerful finance process automation solutions that deliver clarity across complex organizations”, says Lindemann.

The new name is inspired by the Sierra de la Serrella, a powerful mountain range in Spain symbolizing solidity conveying confidence and security. Born from the belief that no problem is too large to solve, Serrala brings clarity to complexity. The new name takes added dimension from Hindi, in which saral means simple.

“We chose a name that brings with it everything that clients know and count on from Hanse Orga Group and its entities. Providing security, being reliable, and empowering our clients is integral to who we are. Our new name brings all of these great companies together into one strong and united team with a global presence and a complete end-to-end solution suite for our clients. It reflects our values, expresses the diversity of our people and demonstrates our enterprising nature. Serrala expresses how we constantly challenge ourselves to provide best-in-class solutions that are secure, robust and trusted and that empower our customers and partners around the globe”, says Lindemann.

Serrala already supports over 2,500 companies worldwide with advanced technology and personalized consulting to optimize all processes that form part of the universe of payments: from order-to-cash, procure-to-pay and treasury to data and document management. Represented on three continents with 16 offices in Europe, North America and Asia, Serrala has over 550 employees who are dedicated to service companies of all industry sectors – from medium-sized companies to global players.

“What makes our offering stand out is that Serrala optimizes the universe of payments for organizations that seek efficient cash visibility and secure financial processes. Our future-proof end-to-end finance solutions cover every aspect of the inbound and outbound payments ecosystem partnered with first class cash visibility and treasury consulting services. Taken together, this unique and holistic approach enables our clients to achieve the highest possible process efficiency, transparency, compliance and fraud prevention in one simple, scalable and modular suite”, explains Lindemann.

The redesigned logo and website showcase a fresh, new look for the company, bringing the enterprising nature and passion for process automation of the company front and center. Website visitors will also find an enhanced dedication to providing finance and IT professionals with in-depth content in the form of white papers and blog posts focused on the latest news and technology in the industry and generating discussion about trends and new ideas.

Slider to appear for charity event

On Thursday the 2nd August rock band around 20:00hrs SLIDER will appear at the Cage Wine Bar, Reigate, Surrey on behalf of ‘Grassroots Suicide Prevention’.

Intrum UK are raising funds for Grassroots throughout 2018. They are a Brighton based charity with a simple but powerful goal: that no-one should have to contemplate suicide alone. They work with communities, organisations and individuals, helping them to become ready, willing and able to effectively support someone at risk of suicide. Their training and consultancy helps save lives by enabling the kind of conversations that can really make a difference.

Slider are a four piece band playing classic punk rock hits made famous by The Clash, Ramones, Sex Pistols, The Jam, The Damned etc. Says band member Bob Kingdon, “to be given an opportunity to raise money for such a worthwhile cause is a great privilege. Expect great songs played very fast indeed and don’t forget to throw notes in the charity buckets!”

The Cage Wine Bar is in Cage Yard High Street, Reigate RH2 9AB (Next door to Morrisons Supermarket).

UK business debt rises by a quarter

The total value of UK business judgments rose sharply by 25 percent during the first quarter of the year, according to figures released today by TrustOnline.

Over the same period the number of online searches by people checking judgment status grew by seven percent, compared to Q1 2017, to just under 75,000 searches.

TrustOnline is the only online source for UK judgment information about other people and businesses.

During Q1 2018, just over 33,000 business judgments were registered in the UK, eight percent more than the total issued in Q1 2017. The average value of a business judgment also increased, rising by 16 percent.

As a result of these changes, the total value of UK business judgments in the county courts sharply rose by a quarter compared to the first quarter of 2017.

These statistics cover county court judgments registered in England & Wales; simple procedure, ordinary cause and small claims decrees registered in Scotland; and default and small claims decrees from Northern Ireland.

Malcolm Hurlston CBE for Trust Online said “Judgments against businesses clearly show failure in financial management. This quarter’s increase is a warning sign and it would be good to see an equivalent rise in searches.”

During Q1 2018 TrustOnline handled 74,649 online searches from the public for judgments in the UK; many more are expected in 2018 with more judgments to search and a mobile friendly version ready for launch. A search of all UK registers costs £10; a search within one of the following three jurisdictions: England & Wales; Scotland; or Northern Ireland, which is likely to be enough in many circumstances, costs £6.

Statistics

Judgments against businesses Q1 2018 (compared with Q1 2017)
o Total number: 33,010 (up eight percent)
o Total value: £105.1m (up 25 percent)
o Average value: £3,183 (up 16 percent)

Content Guru Ranked in 2018 Ventana Research Cloud Contact Centre Index

Cloud contact centre and customer engagement provider, Content Guru, has been positioned in Ventana Research’s ‘Value Index: Contact Centre in the Cloud in 2018’, scoring an overall performance rating of 88.4%.

Prominent US-based analyst, Ventana Research, provides market research, as well as expert IT and business guidance, to help organisations optimise their performance. Their latest report provides buyers with an overview of the cloud contact centre market, which they can use to evaluate vendors whose products manage and improve contact centres in the cloud through aligning business and IT.

To calculate Index positions, participants in Ventana’s research underwent a rigorous assessment process, including a Value Index questionnaire, interviews and in-depth product reviews. Cloud contact centre vendors and their products were scored out of 100 across seven separate categories: Usability, Manageability, Reliability, Capability, Adaptability, Validation and TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) / ROI (Return on Investment). When aggregated and weighted, these scores produce a company’s position on the Cloud Value Index.

Content Guru’s omni-channel cloud communications platform, storm®, was assessed based on three core modules: storm CONTACT, which uses proprietary iACD® (Intelligent Automated Contact Distribution) technology to process omni-channel interactions in a blended queue, storm VIEW, a real-time and historical Management Information (MI) module, and FLOW, an omni-channel service creation portal. Content Guru gained its highest score in the Manageability category, receiving 95.4% for the ease with which its platform can be operated by users, and for the company’s high levels of security and operational competence.

Martin Taylor, Global CMO of Content Guru, commented on the ranking: “It’s fantastic to be receiving this kind recognition from one of the world’s leading analysts, whilst continuing to win major industry awards such as our recent IT Europa accolade. 2018 has already seen enormous international expansion for Content Guru, as we build our worldwide operations, especially in the vital Asia-Pac and US cloud contact centre markets. With ongoing annual revenue and team growth of more than 30% in the last couple of years, our aim now is to continue enhancing the storm cloud contact centre offer, such as through advancements in AI and CRM, in order to gain even greater recognition next year.”

Mark Smith, CEO & Chief Research Officer at Ventana, commented: ”We applaud Content Guru participating in the very sophisticated process and our analysis found that they have a well-balanced offering that has advanced on the value and capabilities of its platform and our rating for the Manageability, Capability and TCO / ROI were found to be some of the best in the industry.“

Best end-to-end Customer Engagement Provider 2018 award goes to the Eckoh Experience

Eckoh plc (“Eckoh”, AIM: ECK), the global provider of secure payment products and customer contact solutions, has won the Best End-to-End Customer Engagement Provider award at the recent TMT Awards 2018.

TMT’s (Technology, Media, Telecoms) Telecoms Awards are now in their third year and aims to reward the most respected businesses in the increasingly vital communications industry to ensure that customers can connect with their key stakeholders regardless of whether they are in the next office, or across the globe. Award winners are chosen through a combination of votes gathered from TMT’s network of respected industry partners and their own rigorous in-house research.

Eckoh’s win was secured through its comprehensive experience portfolio covering secure payments, customer engagement and support solutions. Proving the success of each element of the portfolio Eckoh was able to demonstrate innovation in secure payment technology as well as showcase the industry recognition for its solutions and innovation. As one of the only portfolios to combine Omni-Channel engagement with PCI DSS secure payment solutions it was clear that there were significant differentiators to Eckoh’s entry.

Tony Porter, Global Head of Marketing at Eckoh, commented:It’s a great achievement for to have won this award for Eckoh Experience and we’re delighted that its unique combination of payment and engagement solutions has been recognised. We’re always seeking the very best technology solutions for today’s contact centres and their customers and we firmly believe that good customer service is to allow customers to engage on their channel of choice and to pay securely using their payment method of choice. This is a great example of that approach and makes a vital contribution to keeping contact centres at the forefront of customer engagement.”