Credit Management Services Company Lowell Selects Xactium to Manage Risks

Leading European Credit Management Services Company Lowell, has selected Xactium as its preferred Risk Management System to implement within the UK.

Lowell is a European leader specialising in debt purchase, contingent collections and business services, with offices in the UK, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Scandinavia and Estonia. Lowell was originally founded on the idea that there was an opportunity to provide collections services in a better way.

Gary Kendall, Head of Risk, at Lowell UK, said, “Xactium provides us with a risk platform which complements our risk management framework. Providing insight and assurance over the risks we manage as a rapidly growing business.”

Andy Evans, Xactium Managing Director adds: “It’s great to be adding Lowell to our growing list of Credit and Debt management customers. Lowell have a forward thinking approach to risk management, and we are pleased to be delivering them our highly flexible, modern cloud based risk management solution”.

New Aeriandi survey reveals voice is the silent cyber security threat

A new study from voice security company, Aeriandi, has highlighted UK organisations’ contradictory attitudes towards the voice channel, increasing the chances of their customers’, employees’ and partners’ data being exposed to unauthorised parties – and as a result falling foul of the new General Data Protection Regulation.

The study was carried out at the recent IFSEC show in London, Europe’s leading security event. One hundred visitors were asked a series of questions to understand their attitudes to voice technology plus their company’s use of the voice channel to communicate with customers.

An overwhelming number of respondents – 70 percent – believe that securing the voice channel is an important part of the IT security mix, with 68 percent stating that it should fall under the scope of IT security. However, when questioned about who, within their company was responsible for voice, only around one third – 37 percent – stated that it fell under the remit of their IT security team. The remaining 64 percent of respondents said that responsibility lay with the contact centre, customer care, general IT (not security) or telco & networking teams within their company.

When it comes to the importance of voice, and the voice channel, two thirds – 69 percent – of those questioned responded that it is not a top priority for IT security. This view was reflected in the security posture of their own companies, with almost half – 47 percent – stating that voice security was either not a priority, or a lower priority than other threats including malware, phishing and trojans.

The contradiction in attitudes was highlighted by the fact that nearly three quarters of those surveyed – 72 percent – believe that advances in voice technology pose a significant threat to enterprise security and 40 percent think that more resources should be allocated to protecting the voice channel within their company.

Matt Bryars, co-founder and CEO of Aeriandi, said: “We live in an age where the topic of data security is barely out of the news. Many organisations live and die by their ability to keep our data safe, which is why billions of pounds a year are spent on doing just that. However, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link and for many organisations, the voice channel is an often-overlooked vulnerability that ends up being its downfall. With estimates that between 30 to 50 per cent of all fraud incidents are initiated with a phone call, organisations must give the voice channel equal priority to other cyber-attack vectors.”

Intuit’s Direct Bank Feed with Lloyds Bank Now Live

Intuit Ltd, a fully owned subsidiary of Intuit Inc (Nasdaq: INTU), and Lloyds Bank (LSE: LLOY), announced today that its direct bank feed is now live. Now, QuickBooks customers in the UK can automatically and securely import transactions from their Lloyds Bank account directly, and at no extra charge, to QuickBooks.

Through a global initiative to save businesses time and give them complete confidence in their financial management, Intuit now has direct bank feeds with three out of the top four retail banks in the UK, covering more than 60 percent of the UK market.

Direct bank feeds are a fundamental component of financial management software and cloud accounting because they automate much of the time-consuming data entry once associated with bookkeeping. By automatically transferring data between their bank and their financial management platform, QuickBooks customers save valuable time and avoid potential data-entry errors.

“Our direct bank feed with Lloyds Bank is now live, giving small businesses and accountants better access to financial data that is key to making smarter financial decisions. We’re delighted to be working with Lloyds to give our mutual customers complete confidence in their financial lives, and achieve a more open and innovative financial data-sharing ecosystem,” says Dominic Allon, Vice President and Managing Director of Intuit Europe.

The direct feed is now fully available to all customers of Lloyds Bank.

Funding line helps recruitment firm reach hire ground

Bibby Financial Services (BFS) has provided a £1.4 million Recruitment Finance funding line to Pearson Anderson, an ambitious healthcare recruitment company. The funding line includes Bad Debt Protection and payroll services, which will help the business manage contracts and finances more efficiently and effectively.

Based in Leicester and founded in 2009, recruitment firm, Pearson Anderson, is managed by CEO Amit Kainth. With specialist experience in the sector, Pearson Anderson has grown significantly and is now one of the leading healthcare recruitment agencies in the UK. The business prides itself on having experienced consultants that know the industry inside out, and for having an international network of recruiters to source from a wider pool of potential candidates for UK based roles.

Pearson Anderson needed support in payroll management so looked to Bibby Financial Services (BFS) to structure a Recruitment Finance and Bad Debt Protection funding package. The structured funding line ensured that payroll is effectively managed by a designated BFS back office support team and the business was supported in the event of debtor non-payment as a result of protracted debt or insolvency.

This arrangement allows Pearson Anderson to free up time to prioritise growth and concentrate on offering services to new clients.

Amit Kainth, CEO at Pearson Anderson Ltd, said: “In order for us to expand our services, we recognised that we needed to prioritise our efforts to drive growth over the next few years. To free up new time for us to focus on this, we needed additional support in back office functions such as payroll management and daily administration.”

“The experience and knowledge of those at BFS really stood out to us. The Recruitment Finance team was able to provide us with an offering that worked in-line with the operations of our business, and that was crucial when making our decision to choose them as our financial partner.”

Speaking on recent changes to immigration rules, Kainth added: “The Government’s recent decision to relax the visa rules for doctors and nurses could be very beneficial for our business as the NHS is a key part of the UK economy which desperately needs talent. Our network of recruiters across Europe are well placed to help find the talent the UK needs.”

Paul Fraser, UK Sales Director, Specialist, Bibby Financial Services commented: “Pearson Anderson is a market-leading healthcare recruitment agency that has experienced substantial levels of growth since its incorporation.

“Our team has worked closely with Amit and his team to structure a Recruitment Finance offer that suited their business, allowing the company to pay suppliers and staff, and to concentrate on the areas in which they wish to develop over the coming years.

“This, alongside back-office administration and payroll support, will allow Pearson Anderson to grow and prosper, and maintain their reputation as a market leading recruiter.”
Susan Farmer, Head of Recruitment Finance, Bibby Financial Services added: “For the first six months of this year we have seen strong performance in the recruitment industry, amidst a challenging environment. The UK continues to have record low levels of unemployment, while the demand for high level talent is ever increasing due to the difficulties that Brexit is causing.

“Businesses like Pearson Anderson are often reliant on overseas talent to fill a large number of vacancies. A challenge that not only the healthcare industry is struggling with, as the UK continues to hit the Tier 2 Visa cap.”

Tungsten Network launches billing service for Accounts Receivable departments

Tungsten Network, the global digital automation platform, has dramatically expanded the scope of its invoicing services with the official launch of Tungsten Network e-billing. This new service represents a logical step for Tungsten to better serve all the members of its digital platform.

The new service will enable Accounts Receivable (AR) departments worldwide to send 100 per cent of their outbound invoices through a single service provider and have them delivered in the preferred format of the recipient, regardless of whether their customers are registered on Tungsten Network. It complements Tungsten Network’s e-invoicing solution, aimed at removing friction from Accounts Payable (AP) processes, providing companies a unique opportunity to digitally automate their accounting processes on both sides of the ledger.

Tungsten Network e-billing customers will digitally send their outbound invoice data to Tungsten Network via single connection. Invoices are processed by Tungsten Network, validated in accordance with global tax-compliance standards, and delivered both on- and off-Network. Tungsten Network delivers the invoices in the recipient’s required format, whether digital, a PDF email attachment, or via a printing and postal service, allowing Tungsten Network customers to easily meet the diverse interoperability requirements of connecting with their own customers. This will dramatically increase invoice-processing efficiencies and drive down the cost of getting paid for the goods and services they provide.

Creating a more efficient AR process increases the control Tungsten Network customers have over their working capital position. In particular, it has a positive effect on days sales outstanding (DSO), a financial ratio that illustrates how well a company’s accounts are managed.

Finance departments will also benefit from enhanced visibility because they can have access to all of their digital invoice data through a single portal. They also have the opportunity to magnify the benefits they feel from being part of Tungsten Network through its value-added products, like Tungsten Network’s Analytics solution.

Richard Hurwitz, Tungsten Network CEO, said: “Offering a comprehensive billing service represents a strategic move to open up Tungsten Network’s technology to even more businesses. E-billing customers send all invoices via the same connection and in the same way, whether on- or off-Network. As part of our strategy to add complementary adjacent services, we have now enhanced the value proposition we offer to our customers by allowing both AP and AR departments to take the lead in introducing digitisation and to get better visibility on their finances. This also allows Tungsten Network to initiate engagements with its customers from multiple points.”

A global leader in e-invoicing, Tungsten Network creates valid, tax-compliant documents across 48 different countries. With all invoices issued through a single solution across 192 countries, Tungsten Network e-billing will also give businesses the ability to ensure compliance while at the same time improving payment processes.

The expansion builds on the value-added services already offered by Tungsten Network, including access to Tungsten Network Finance. As the platform currently sitting at the centre of £164bn worth of transactions every year, Tungsten Network is able to turn this data into actionable insight for its customers.

Electricity North West Supercharges Customer Contact with storm®

Electricity North West has signed a new contract to deploy an omni-channel cloud contact centre solution on the storm® platform.

The deal extends Electricity North West’s existing automated contact handling solution, which went live in 2016 and uses the scalability of storm to handle the enormous surges in demand that can occur during network disruptions. Existing premises-based ACD functionality will now be migrated to the storm cloud, enabling Electricity North West to centralise management of the entire customer journey.

With revenues of £486 million, Electricity North West owns, operates and maintains the North West’s electricity distribution network, connecting 2.4 million properties and more than 5 million people to the National Grid.

Leveraging its partition already live on storm, the distribution network operator will be able to unlock additional functionality, deploying live agent features alongside real-time and historical reporting and recording across all communication forms. Administrators control the entire service through web-based portals, including complex contact flows and quality management. Meanwhile agents manage interactions through the DTA® (Desktop Task Assistant™), a unified omni-channel interface, which delivers all communications and related customer information within a single browser tab.

Electricity North West becomes the latest storm utilities client to deploy live agent customer engagement capabilities, with two-thirds of the UK’s electricity distribution sector now using the platform.

Stephanie Trubshaw, Customer Director at Electricity North West, commented: “Delivering the best quality of customer service is a key tenet of Electricity North West’s core commitments. storm enables us to engage with our customers on their own terms, across the channels they choose, and during the times they need. With complete visibility over each journey, we will continue to optimise customer experience and future-proof our capabilities.”

Shub Naha, Business Development Director at Content Guru, added: “The utilities sector is a highly-regulated market, with a major focus on providing superior and timely customer experience. We look forward to taking Electricity North West on the next stage of their storm journey, and helping them to reap the benefits of omni-channel customer engagement. Combining large-scale automation with enhanced live interactions is an extremely effective strategy, especially in sectors such as utilities, which face enormous levels of unstructured demand for information about both routine and complex subjects.”

Serrala Announces Release of Alevate, a Suite of Cloud-based Solutions to Manage Inbound and Outbound Payments

Serrala, the international provider of solutions for inbound and outbound payments and related finance processes, today announced the launch of Alevate, the first solution unveiled since the company’s rebrand. This new suite of Cloud-based software solutions provides Serrala customers with everything they need to securely and efficiently manage inbound and outbound payments and treasury worldwide, across multiple enterprise systems. The Alevate suite of solutions will be continually expanded to address customer challenges. The first product to be made available will be Alevate Payments.
Alevate Payments is a highly flexible and secure solution that acts as a global payment hub across multiple, disparate enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. The Cloud-based solution will enable companies to achieve a unified view of all payment transactions globally and perform related cash management and cash pooling activities. Suitable for multinational clients as well as medium-sized businesses, the solution uses intelligent robotic process automation to convert payments into the correct payment format, sign the payments with strong cryptography, and provide a centralized connection between a company and the various banks it uses.

Organizations can use Alevate Payments as a standalone solution to centralize and standardize payments or they can combine it with Serrala’s SAP-integrated FS² solutions to provide greater organizational cash visibility. Whether the solution is deployed in the Cloud or as a Cloud-based managed service, it provides organizations with a highly versatile, multi-tenancy, multi-country, multi-bank, and multi-ERP payment solution.

According to Ingo Czok, SVP Cloud Solutions, Serrala, “Companies today want to be faster and more agile and they want to be up and running in the shortest possible time. Setting up a complex payments operation is much quicker in the Cloud.”

A recent Serrala survey of global financial leaders supports this idea, showing that managing payments is a top priority for decision makers, with 71% of respondents ranking it as a near-term priority. When considered against the realities of tech adoption highlighted by the survey – 98% of respondents identify “increasing automation” as a priority, while only 17% have full cloud deployments – it becomes clear that the need for effective cloud solutions is critical.

“Cloud is the future and we want to help our customers with the best solutions for their specific business needs” says Sven Lindemann, CEO of Serrala. “Payment fraud is increasing globally, and Cloud solutions such as Alevate Payments, along with our managed services offering, provides a clear advantage for our customers: a single source of truth that is easier to control, audit and manage in a global business environment.”

Fraud leaders bet on education and technology to fight the growing fraud threat, new research finds

Nearly two thirds (63%) of businesses believe that a malicious data breach by an employee is a significant threat (up from 41% in 2017), according to Callcredit’s 2018 annual fraud report which is released today.

The study, entitled Building a Fraud Fortress, examines how businesses can protect themselves, their customers and their staff, and finds that fraud leaders are betting on a mix of employee and customer education, alongside advanced technology solutions, to counter the growing threat.

An insider attack is just one of the many possible avenues. There’s also the risk of employees being exploited and customers being scammed, as well as cyber attacks and data breaches. The threats experienced most frequently, according to the report, are against authentication systems (45%), web-based services (43%), and phishing (42%) – demonstrating the breadth of technological and human-based methods that fraudsters are adopting.

The question for businesses is how to fight back and Callcredit’s research illustrated the importance of education, as well as the technology-based solutions which 57% regard as being key to fraud protection.

Nearly half (49%) are already including some specific anti-fraud education as part of all employees’ induction and many have plans to develop training programmes further. 43% of managers aspire to implement live exercises to test how staff respond, and 42% see employee drills having a role in combating fraud.

When it comes to technology, 45% of those surveyed are currently using surveillance and 42% are using URL tracking as preventative measures, whilst nearly half (45%) are looking to deploy artificial intelligence as a preventative tool in the next two years.

John Cannon, Managing Director, Fraud and ID, Callcredit said: “Education and training undoubtedly play an essential role when it comes to preventing fraud so it’s encouraging to see from the research that this is already firmly embedded with nearly half of UK businesses. However, it’s important to adapt and evolve training to keep up with the fraudsters – it can’t simply be a tick-box approach. Live exercises and employee drills are a good idea as it’s important to simulate realistic situations.

“But education is only one piece of the puzzle and businesses should be thinking about the other tools available that can be used to help better protect themselves against fraud. It was interesting to note some of the technologies fraud leaders are looking to use in the next year – ID verification (90%), machine learning (37%) and biometric screening techniques (37%) – as this reaffirms the importance of the balance between more traditional techniques and emerging tools. Whilst businesses need to keep up with the latest developments, these should be enhancing existing verification techniques.”

Brexit chaos ‘more nerve-wracking than the World Cup’, say parcel export experts

The parcel export specialists ParcelHero says supporters of a soft Brexit cheered on Theresa May’s victory over Hard Brexiteers; only to see an own goal by Brexit Secretary David Davis followed by an opportunist move by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, potentially reverse an excellent result.

The Head of Consumer Research for the parcel export experts ParcelHero, David Jinks MILT, says: ‘While staying in the Customs Union would have been the best result for exporters apprehensive about new tariffs and red tape sending a parcel between the UK and EU; Theresa May’s compromise deal at Chequers at least proposed a free trade area for industrial goods and a very promising sounding “combined customs territory.”

David continues: ‘But the resignation of Brexit Secretary David Davis, and some opportunist goal hanging by Boris Johnson, has cut exporters’ celebrations short. With the threat of more to follow, it could be game over for Theresa May and Britain’s entire moderate Brexit plans. The resignations not only potentially weaken Prime Minister Theresa May’s standing within her own party – emboldening Conservative Eurosceptics – but also undermine our negotiating position with the EU still further. Against such a disorganised attack the EU’s defence will certainly feel increasingly confident.’

Explains David: ‘Even before Boris Johnson and David Davis’ resignation, UK exporters have been tightening their line and very cautious about the proposal to avoid customs checks by differentiating between goods coming into the UK and those ultimately bound for the EU. Nonetheless, rather like most of the Cabinet, a compromise on the issue seemed the best deal available. Davis’ late substitution with Dominic Raab – a hard-line Brexiteer – has clearly failed to calm a team revolt against their manager; and penalties look increasingly more likely for the UK in its Brexit negotiations.’

Concludes David: ‘To be honest, we’re now more confident of football coming home than a great deal for UK exporters and importers concluding our Brexit negotiations.’

Open Banking after first 6 months: “it promises to be biggest improvement for customers since the introduction of the cashpoint“

Thursday 13 July marks six-months since Open Banking was introduced, with the government aiming to dramatically increase competition and ensure a much better experience for the UK‘s current account holders.

“While the results so far for customers are yet to be dramatic, that is hardly surprising as it is such a major and complex change, with many banks initially struggling to comply let alone use the changes to their advantage. However, internally there has been a lot happening,“ says Gianluca Corradi, the head of the UK banking practice at pricing specialists Simon-Kucher.

He added: “Overall Open Bank has been a very good regulatory-driven initiative and the best is yet to come. I am sure over the coming years its impact on customers will be profound and positive, the biggest improvement for bank customers since the introduction of the first cashpoint in 1967… and maybe it will prove even more profound.“

An example of the new services enabled by Open Banking is HSBC’s Connected Money which allows customers to see their accounts at up to 21 different banks in one place.

Simon-Kucher is working with numerous banks and fintechs in the UK to help them devise and successfully deploy new services enabled by the Open Banking initiative. It expects many new innovations to be going live in the autumn.

Gianluca Corradi added: “Previously everyone involved at the big banks were panicking as the regulation forced a big rush to comply. Now bank management is able to think “Is there more we can do? How can we benefit from this strategically?”. There are now a lot of strategic initiatives underway and we can expect to see new developments from the major banks from the autumn onwards.”

He added: “Open Banking is already leading to more competition overall and a faster pace of innovation at the established banks through them now facing a much greater Fintech threat, which is becoming ever stronger. As an example of how it has speeded up innovation in the large banks, for instance HSBC recently launched Connected Money app, which allows you to see your accounts at up to 21 banks big banks in one place“.

“The established banks are well positioned to keep their overall leadership of the market because they have been investing. They may be moving at a slower pace than the fintechs, but there is an inherent inertia in the market, which prevents sudden changes in market share.

“The difference in a few years won’t be between big banks winning or fintechs winning and vice versa, it will between which banks and fintechs invested successfully in becoming the most customer-centric and those that that didn’t and lost.

“For those brining initiatives to market in the autumn and 2019, it’s crucial they start thinking right now about how they can monetise their new solutions. One thing is to get “reach” with the new solutions, the other is to plan how to get “rich” with the value provided to the customer. Monetisation is a key building block for the success of this whole venture and often businesses leave it too late and fail to generate profitable revenue from market-leading innovations.”