GDPR deadline: what happens next?

Matt Brown, partner and head of commercial (Liverpool) at independent legal practice Brabners, said: “It’s fair to say that most businesses are at least on their way to GDPR compliance. The volume of requests for advice we’ve received, and the similar inundation we hear about from other law firms, certainly suggests so. But while it’s clearly on the agenda for many, at this stage this is all.

“The ICO has been at pains to acknowledge that it is unrealistic to expect everyone to be 100 per cent compliant on day one. Instead, what they will want to see is that businesses have taken the right steps forward. When it comes to dishing out fines, we’re likely to see a small number of strategic, high-profile cases that are designed to keep GDPR in the spotlight – at least to start with.

“Recent cases from the ICO have focused on the indiscriminate use of data, such as mass-marketing tactics like cold calling. This will continue, but now it will have the full force of GDPR behind it.

“We may see the ICO seek to remind businesses of the annual fees that everyone will have to pay. The default category is £2900 but this drops dramatically to £60 or £40 for medium and small businesses. Another priority should be communicating to the regulator which category your business falls into.

“If you’re a businesses that hasn’t started to prepare, or is significantly behind, for GDPR then the key is not to panic. It’s too late to. Start the process of identifying what data you hold, how it is used and whether you have a legal right to process it now. That way, if the ICO comes knocking, you will be able to demonstrate you are attempting to get your ducks in a row.”

Over half of businesses predict a serious security breach within the next year

Research released today by Callcredit Information Group, ahead of its annual Fraud Summit in June, reveals that over half (59%) of businesses predict a serious fraud incident or security breach within the next year if they continue with their current technology, processes and tools. In addition, a further 17% of those surveyed revealed that this is something they have already experienced.

The research, which asked 105 fraud prevention managers and directors about their attitudes and techniques, also found that fraud prevention priorities have shifted since 2017. This year, one of the biggest focuses in the fight against fraud is developing a fraud response strategy, according to 91% of those surveyed, compared to 80% last year.

John Cannon, Managing Director, Fraud & ID, Callcredit Information Group, commented: “Our research suggests that for most businesses, a security breach is now considered an almost inevitable occurrence, so it’s no surprise that fraud leaders see prevention as the key tactic in the fight against fraud. It’s encouraging to see that businesses are increasingly adopting robust prevention tactics, but the challenge is far from over.

“With the ever-evolving fraud threat, businesses are having to continually adapt their strategies to tackle the problem. Technology plays a central role in that, and is constantly developing, with cutting-edge techniques like machine learning and artificial intelligence complementing more traditional methods. In fact, over half of the fraud leaders we surveyed (58%) believe machine learning and pattern-recognition will be vital to our future fraud prevention activities.”

The research highlighted a significant uplift in the adoption of identity verification measures and fraud prevention technology, with 90% of those surveyed stating these were amongst their top priorities this year. Unsurprisingly, compliance with the latest regulation also remains a key focus for nine out of 10 fraud leaders, as they adapt to the changing landscape and more stringent regulatory requirements.

Cannon concluded: “Collaboration is essential when it comes to fighting fraud. Businesses need to come together to share insights and best practice across all sectors if they want to stay a step ahead of the fraudsters. Ongoing fraud has had a damaging impact on trust in businesses and it’s now crucial that they work to win back consumer confidence, so they need a broad understanding of the tools that are available to ensure they are keeping their business, and their consumers’ data, safe.”

ASTL quarterly results show continued strength

Figures compiled by the ASTL’s auditors from its bridging lender members for Q1 2018 have exceeded the outstanding figures for Q4 2017, when for the first-time quarterly completions exceeded £1 billion. Annual completions are now close to £3.8 billion.

The value of loans written for the quarter ending 31 March 2018 revealed an increase of 1.5% compared to the previous quarter. Annual completions rose by 29.9%. In comparison to the same quarter last year, the value of loans written in the quarter has increased by 32.5%.

Total loan books are continuing to climb, with a rise of 13.1% compared to Q4 2017. Compared to the end of Q1 2017, the value of loan books has risen by 35.6%, to £4.2 billion. All figures highlight the current strength of the ASTL’s bridging lender members.

The pace of increases in applications reversed recent declines and increased by 28.9% compared to a decrease of 11% in Q4 2017. On an annualised basis, applications are up by 23.2%, making up a total of £19.7 billion. Although applications do tend to be unreliable indicators and are dependent on how many lenders are offered the same deals, this is still a staggeringly large figure.

Benson Hersch, CEO of the ASTL says: “Our figures highlight the fact that the bridging finance industry is in good shape and is ready and willing to meet the challenges and opportunities of today’s market.”

“The bridging sector is now a well-established part of the property finance market and, barring any black swans, should continue to grow.”

These figures are taken from the responses from ASTL members, which include most of the key lenders in the bridging market.

Statnett Optimises Norway’s Electricity with FICO Analytics

Statnett, the Norwegian transmission systems operator (TSO) for energy, has selected FICO® Xpress Optimization to power their models of the future of electricity needs in Norway and optimise the current infrastructure. The solution will be used across the organisation to process, analyse and plan key factors relating to the sector.

Statnett operates nearly 11,000 km of high voltage power lines across Norway and is responsible for creating the next-generation main grid and securing the power supply of the future. To fulfill its mission, the organisation forecasts the country’s future electricity needs and market changes through 2040 and beyond.

“We are both looking at the current infrastructure as well as the energy requirements of the future, including trying to understand future market behaviours connected to electricity pricing,” said Ivar Husevåg Døskeland, senior business analyst at Statnett. “We plan to invest £3-4 billion in the power grid between 2018 and 2022.”

The complex task of both ensuring stable delivery of electricity now and looking ahead in a constantly evolving sector requires powerful tools and partners. Statnett has a well-established partnership with SINTEF, a Norwegian research institute that builds analytic models for different scenarios related to above challenges. To process, analyse and plan the future of electricity in Norway using these models, Statnett reviewed the market and chose FICO Xpress Optimization.

”As part of working with Statnett, we connected them with other FICO Xpress Optimization users,” said Dylan Jones, who manages Nordic operations at FICO. “Their counsel showed Statnett how it could use Xpress Optimization to maximise the value from their entire supply chain, eliminating the need for them to buy multiple solvers for different applications.”

“The breadth of FICO Xpress Optimization’s capabilities ensures that we have a solution that can be widely used across the organisation now and in the future,” said Døskeland.

Teleperformance Receives European Union Binding Corporate Rules ( BCRs ) Approval

Teleperformance the worldwide leader in omnichannel customer experience management, today announced it has received Binding Corporate Rules (BCRs) approval as both a data controller and data processor from the French Data Protection Authority, CNIL, making Teleperformance the first company in the industry to attain this critical data protection compliance status in the European Union.
Attaining BCRs approved status is a long and rigorous process that ensures a company has a comprehensive and effective framework to safely and legally transfer private EU data out of Europe for applications such as customer sales and service, technical support and back-office processing applications.
Teleperformance was assisted during the approval process by Promontory Financial Group, the global leader in data privacy protection.
Alan Winters, Deputy Chief Global Compliance Officer & Chief Privacy Officer, Teleperformance Group, commented: “Teleperformance is intensely focused on data protection and privacy at all times, everywhere in the world. Attaining approved BCRs status is more than a major industry first milestone for data transfer security and governance; BCRs allows us to offer clients total global operational flexibilities to deliver a safer and better customer experience for their EU consumers anywhere and on every interaction.”
Simon McDougall, Managing Director, Promontory Financial Group and Board Member of the International Association of Privacy Professionals, added: “Teleperformance’s existing comprehensive privacy program and robust control framework led to the fastest BCRs approval process that I am aware of to-date in any industry. This is a real differentiator for Teleperformance as it allows their clients to choose service locations anywhere in the world while assuring their customers are protected in international data transfers. Promontory was delighted to assist Teleperformance based on their clear commitment to privacy good practice.”
Daniel Julien, Chairman and Group CEO, Teleperformance Group, stated: “As the global industry leader, we have an absolute responsibility to our clients, their customers, our key stakeholders and the whole market to set the highest standards possible in every aspect of our business including data privacy and security. Attaining BCRs approval in record time is just one more example of our total commitment to provide maximum flexibility and safety to our clients and their customers on each interaction; regardless of delivery location or channel. We are and we will remain totally obsessional on privacy, security and data protection.”

Together helps a mum and son achieve their property ownership dream

A mother and son have bought the council house where they’d lived for more than a decade thanks to a residential home loan from specialist lender Together.

They had been unable to get a mortgage under the Government-backed right to buy scheme because he had just taken up a new job at a garden centre which supports adults with disabilities, and his mum was receiving jobseekers’ allowance while looking for work.

The mother and son had lived together in their rented home for more than 11 years and had always wanted to buy it together. However, they hadn’t realised that their employment status, as well as the fact they were buying under right to buy, meant they would struggle to get a home loan from a high street bank or building society.

The customers discovered Together could help following a search on the internet. An in-house adviser at the specialist mortgage lender spoke to them both and its expert underwriters looked into all aspects of their backgrounds, including his employment contract, previous payslips, and their long history of rental payments.

Richard Tugwell, a director at Together, explained: “The son had started a new job and was, technically, on a zero hour contract at his new employment, meaning it would have been difficult, if not impossible to be able to get a mortgage through mainstream channels.

“Using our common sense philosophy and a personal approach to mortgage advice and underwriting, we looked at the son’s employment history and found that he had been consistently working beforehand and was working full-time hours in a stable job.

“We also found that the mortgage was affordable in their joint names, taking into account their impeccable credit records and the fact that the mother was actively seeking work, so was eligible for Government benefits. We took all these factors into consideration when deciding to provide the finance.”

Together agreed to provide a £24,470 first charge mortgage, secured against their £46,000 council house, while the customers paid a deposit of £2,300

Mr Tugwell added: “We’re delighted that we’ve managed to help them in their dream of home ownership. The capital repayments on the loan are less than they had been paying their local council in rent, so it was a great outcome for them.”

Equifax works with HSBC UK on first live open banking credit application solution

HSBC UK has created the first live use case of open banking for credit applications using the InterConnect platform from Equifax, the consumer and business insights expert. The solution will facilitate quick affordability assessments by allowing individuals to submit their bank transaction information electronically, in less than five minutes, during an application for credit.

Each submission is presented directly to HSBC UK Underwriting in real-time, providing the bank with a fast and informed view of a customer’s affordability and facilitating faster lending decisions.

The Equifax InterConnect platform is a flexible cloud-based decision management platform, which consolidates insight on credit applicants and streamlines the risk decision process. The Equifax platform collates consumer current account transaction information from its third party fintech partners, classified according to FCA guideline categories; committed spend, basic quality of living, essential spend, and discretionary spend.

Jake Ranson, Banking and Financial Institution expert and CMO at Equifax Ltd, said: “This work with HSBC reflects our ongoing commitment to the open banking initiative and our drive to deliver to our banking and financial services clients the best solutions for their customers in this new world of open data.

“We’ve produced a next level data service that helps the industry make the most of new data sharing, and empowers customers with more control over their own financial information. Part of the open banking challenge is educating consumers on what it means in a real life context, and a streamlined credit application process that helps them get a faster decision is a great example.”

Together delivers another quarter of strong growth and record lending

Together, one of the UK’s leading specialist lenders, has announced strong growth and record levels of lending in its quarterly results to 31 March 2018, as the group’s loan book reached a new high of £2.78bnt.

Building on over four decades of experience, Together continued to grow strongly, with quarterly lending volumes at a record high of £422m, while maintaining a very conservative loan to value of just 58.8%. The group remained highly cash generative and profitable, with quarterly cash receipts of £259m and profit before tax of £29m.

Group Chairman, Mike McTighe commented: “We maintained our strong growth momentum in the quarter, delivering a 38% increase in originations while continuing to invest in our people, products, distribution channels, systems and governance. We also continued enhancing our senior management team with the arrival of John Lowe from Coventry Building Society. To support our ongoing growth, we successfully issued a further £150m of our bonds and refinanced our £255m Lakeside securitisation on improved terms. This strong progress was reflected in a ratings upgrade from Fitch. We see increasing demand from customers for our broad range of tailored products and our personalised approach to underwriting and remain confident that Together is well placed to deliver on our ambitious future growth plans.”

Marc Goldberg, Commercial CEO, said: “Together continued its strong growth in the last quarter, and we are proud to report another great set of results. The success and continued growth of our business would not be possible without the hard work and dedication of our 700 colleagues, and our maintained focus on positive customer outcomes where we’re continuously working to enhance the experience for our intermediaries and customers through their entire journey – from origination through the lifetime of their loan. We are delighted to have been recognised by our entry into the Sunday Times Top 100 Companies to Work For, at number 34, and I want to thank all of our colleagues for their continued commitment to helping our customers to achieve their financial ambitions.”

Pete Ball, Personal Finance CEO, added: “We are excited to have achieved another period of record lending during the quarter as we grew our loan book to £2.78 billion. As we continue to build out our platform, particular highlights over the quarter have included further strengthening our distribution partnerships with the UK mortgage clubs and networks, continuing to invest in our product range, platform and service offering and the opening of our London office. Looking ahead to the next quarter, we’re mainly focussed on further enhancement of our platform to provide more customers with the products and finance solutions they need and.”

Decision to step back from logbook loan reform ‘deeply disappointing’

The government’s decision not to introduce its Goods Mortgages Bill has been described as ‘deeply disappointing’ by the Money Advice Trust, the charity that runs National Debtline.

The Bill, announced in the June 2017 Queen’s Speech, was drafted by the Law Commission following a comprehensive review commissioned by the Treasury in September 2014 and published two years later. It had been expected to be passed into law via special Parliamentary procedures that exist for uncontroversial Law Commission Bills of this kind.

Instead, the government announced it “will not introduce legislation at this point in time”, and will instead “continue to work with the FCA as they carry out their high-cost credit review, and then further consider government action on alternatives to high-cost credit” in light of its findings.

Jane Tully, director of external affairs at the Money Advice Trust, the charity that runs National Debtline, said: “The government has snatched defeat from the jaws of progress by deciding not to introduce its Goods Mortgages Bill – a deeply disappointing decision, particularly given how uncontroversial the proposed reforms were.

“The government was right to ask the Law Commission to look into this issue back in 2014, and since then a significant amount of work has gone into producing a Bill that had widespread support – only for it to fall at this final hurdle. We hope the government will reconsider.

“In the meantime, the urgency of addressing problems in the logbook loan market remains. It is now even more important that the FCA takes immediate action to improve consumer protections in this industry – and gives a clear statement of its intent as soon as possible.”

Bills of Sale are commonly used to secure a ‘logbook loan’ on goods you already own – usually a car – and are a form of high-cost lending based on legislation that dates back to the 19th century. The advice sector has repeatedly raised concerns about consumer detriment arising from this type of lending.

Over half of under 45s interested in banking products from Apple, Amazon or Google

Online research from Equifax, the consumer and business insights expert, reveals over half (51%) of Brits under 45 years old would be interested in banking products or services from technology giants like Apple, Amazon or Google.

Of those, 45% said that products or services like loans, credit cards or current account from these technology companies would only appeal to them if they offered better value than their existing bank.Across all age groups, the level of interest in banking products from leading technology firms falls to 40%, with over a quarter (27%) of Brits stating they would rather use their existing bank as they’re more familiar with them.

Jake Ranson, Banking and Financial Institution expert and CMO at Equifax Ltd, said, said: “The recent announcement that Apple is joining forces with Goldman Sachs to launch a consumer credit card highlights how tech companies plan to shake up the banking industry, creating products and services to compete against the big high street banking names as well as newer digital entrants.

“Although a sense of brand familiarity pins many people to their current bank, there’s an appetite for new products and a desire for alternatives that can offer something genuinely different. The tech giants have a loyal brand following in their own right, if they can combine this with a competitive product offering we’ll see an interesting shift in dynamics as the fight to attract customers heats up.”