UL approved as a Cyber Security Service Provider for SWIFT

UL approved as a cyber security service provider for SWIFT Customer Security Programme (CSP).

The SWIFT Customer Security Programme (CSP) was established to support the financial industry’s fight against cyber-attacks by improving information sharing throughout the banking community, enhance SWIFT-related tools and to provide a customer security control framework. All SWIFT customers need to re-attest and confirm full compliance with the mandatory security controls by the end of 2018.

As an approved SWIFT cyber security service provider, UL is prepared to help address cyber security challenges with financial institutions and help them comply with the mandatory controls.

“Providing cyber security services under the SWIFT CSP is a logical extension to our growing cyber security business. We look forward to helping our clients in the Banking sector increase cyber resilience and ensure compliance to the controls established by SWIFT” said Low Yao Yang, Global Director for Security at UL.

Debt continues to drop as interests rise

In the same month that the Bank of England base rate has risen to 0.75% – the highest level since 2009, debt growth has fallen to its lowest level in over a year.

According to the August 2018 Money Statistics, produced by The Money Charity, debt growth per adult slowed to £900.74 in the year to June. In the past 4 months, growth has fallen by £269.18 – 23% since April.

Furthermore, property repossessions have fallen by 8 a day over the past month. Landlord possessions orders have fallen by 13 a day, and mortgage possession orders by 2. Citizens Advice also reports debt issues are down 2% on the same month last year.

These positive signs come as interest rates begin to rise. After stimulation from the Bank of England’s first base rate rise since November last year, instant access savings accounts rates have also risen for the first time in almost 2 years.

However, this is a rise of only 0.01% – to 0.2%. The Bank of England base rate on the other hand, has risen to 0.75%. In terms of average interest rates on credit, a loan for £5,000 has fallen to 7.79%, £10,000 loans to 3.76% and overdrafts to 19.68%. Meanwhile, credit card rates have rocketed to 18.30%.

Interest rates for savings will need to start to match the good intentions of the Bank of England base rate rises for debt growth to continue to slow, and savings rates to actually grow.

Michelle Highman, Chief Executive of The Money Charity says: “It is promising to see unsustainable debt levels beginning to slow over the past few months.  Unmanageable levels of debt make staying on top of your money impossible. So it’s good to also see repossessions drop slight too.  Debt will always be a part of life, but it does not have to be an ever increasing hinderance. If you are experiencing debt problems, please take action to get back in control of your finances.”

Other key points from the May Money Statistics:

  • Average house prices increased by 1.4% in July, according to Halifax.
  • The average First Time Buyer deposit is 106% of an average salary.
  • Public Sector Net Debt per day in 2018 fell by £65m.

The Money Statistics August 2018

Striking numbers
£19.97: The fall in Debt growth per adult in June
0.75%: The new Bank of England base rate
£65m: The fall in Public Sector Net Debt per day in 2018.
106%: The average First Time Buyer deposit compared to average salary
£2,650: The increase in net lending to individuals a day.
44: The amount of bankruptcies per day in June.
32: The amount of mortgage possession orders per day in June.
0.2%: The average Instant account rate (highest in almost 2 years).
1.4%: The increase in house prices on last month.

Everyday in the UK
322 people a day are declared insolvent or bankrupt. This is equivalent to one person every 4 minutes and 28 seconds.
Citizens Advice dealt with 2,441 new debt problems every day in June 2018.
12 properties are repossessed every day, or one every 2 hours and 3 minutes.
49 mortgage possession claims and 32 mortgage possession orders are made every day.

Personal debt in the UK
People in the UK owed £1.592 trillion at the end of June 2018. This is up from £1.545 trillion at the end of June 2017– an extra £900.74 per UK adult.
Per adult in the UK that’s an average debt of £30,759 in June – around 114.1% of average earnings. This is slightly down from a revised £30,669 a month earlier.
Outstanding consumer credit lending was £213.0 billion at the end of June 2018.
Citizens Advice Bureaux across England and Wales dealt with 335,457 issues in June 2018.
Debt was the second largest advice category (behind benefits and tax credits) with 73,238 issues. This is down 2% on the same month last year. Debt issues represented 21.7% of all problems dealt with over the period.

Mortgages, rent and housing
The average mortgage interest rate was 2.48% at the end of June. This stood at 2.11% for new loans. Based on this, households with mortgages would pay an average of £3,081 in mortgage interest over the year. New loans would attract an average of £2,995 in interest.
Halifax estimate that house prices rose by 1.4% compared to last months estimate, growing by 1.3% over the quarter and growing 3.3% annually. Nationwide estimate house prices increased by 0.6% in June, up 2.5% on 12 months ago.
According to UK Finance, the typical first-time buyer deposit in June was 15.0% (around £28,611) – 106% of an average salary.

Savings and Pensions
9.82 million employees had joined a pension scheme under auto-enrolment by the end of June 2018.
The average interest rate for an instant access savings account – not including bonus interest payments – was 0.2% in June. For a cash ISA, this was 0.69%.

Spending and Loans
Data from LINK shows that, on average, 96 cash machine transactions (including balance enquiries and rejected transactions) were made every second in July 2018.
In total, cash machine transactions were worth an average of £43 in May 2018.
The average APR for a £5,000 personal loan is 7.79%, according to the Bank of England. For a £10,000 loan it’s 3.76%, while the average rate for an overdraft is 19.68%.
It cost an average of £23.61 a day for a couple family to raise a child to the age of 18.
It cost an average of £28.48 a day for a lone parent family.

The bigger picture
The UK economy grew by 0.2% between March and May 2018, according to latest estimates from the ONS.
Public Sector Net Debt fell by £65 million during 2018.
95,000 people (1,033 a day) reported they had become redundant over the three months, a decrease of 12,000 on the previous quarter.


About The Money Charity:

The Money Charity is the UK’s financial capability (financial education) charity. Our vision is that everyone has the ability to be on top of their money as a part of everyday life. We empower people across the UK to build the skills, knowledge, attitudes and behaviours to make the most of their money throughout their lives.

Fundsquire announce new UK Managing Director Rowan Gallagher

Alternative lenders Fundsquire have hired former GrantTree Managing Director Rowan Gallagher as their new UK Managing Director.

Founded in 2013 in Australia and expanding to the UK in 2016, Fundsquire have developed their R&D financing product by collaborating with clients and consultants across the world, including PwC, Grant Thornton & GrantTree.

For Rowan, the move to Fundsquire represents a logical step from his previous role; “GrantTree and Fundsquire have a close relationship and together have delivered R&D Tax Credits funding up to 9 months earlier than traditional time frames dictate. Our joint clients have used this service to invest in growth projects now instead of next year, to increase runway during equity negotiations, and to bridge funding gaps.”

Rowan, (pictured below), said they aim to help companies get access to their R&D tax credits up to 9 months before R&D Tax Credits are typically paid; “Fundsquire were the first company to offer this type of funding in the UK. R&D Tax Credits are typically paid a few months after a company’s year has ended, we are providing access to this capital mid way through the current financial year.”

This year’s delay in receiving R&D refunds by HMRC has proved how valuable R&D Advance Funding can be: “HMRC timelines for paying R&D Tax Credits increased this year, and for a time we were seeing the typical turnaround time double. The value to clients of stabilising their cash flow during this period by using R&D Advance Funding was self evident.”

Australia, the UK and Canada share similar R&D tax incentive programs in an effort to drive business growth and innovation. Many small businesses are unaware of these programs, or fail to fully capitalise on the opportunities they present.

Financial wellbeing of staff could hamper workplace productivity and lead to absenteeism

Mental health is one of the biggest causes of sickness absence in the UK, according to the Office for National Statistics. And a new white paper for employers, published by credit information provider Equifax, underlines the impact of financial worries on the mental health of workers.

YouGov research commissioned by Equifax for the white paper reveals a third (38%) of people who work said they can’t sleep at night because of money worries. It is, therefore, easy to see how financial hardship can lead to stress and other mental health issues, which can impact on productivity, staff morale and even absence in the workplace.

The comprehensive whitepaper published by Equifax identifies that the issue of debt and mental health in the workplace needs to be addressed. Yet figures from a Deloitte report show that around 72% of workplaces have no mental health policy in place. This suggests that the majority of employers are failing to monitor or assess the mental health of their workforce. As the connection between debt and mental health becomes more evident, businesses have a duty of care to support their employees’ financial wellbeing.

Mark Bratley, Business Development Director at Equifax, comments, “Wellbeing at work often focuses on physical illness, with less thought spent on the less visible issue of mental health. The fact that there is still a stigma attached to mental health issues can leave people feeling isolated and unable to talk to anyone about their condition. This costs employers in lost talent and productivity, making financial wellbeing support a vital part of an organisation’s overall wellness activity.”

Absence due to mental health has risen by 5% since 2009[5] despite an overall fall in sickness absence of 15%-20% over the same period. According to the Equifax-commissioned YouGov research, sleeplessness affects the mental health of 64% of workers in Britain, with those earning between £5,000 and £9,999 per year most affected (73%), followed by 70% of those in the £30,000 to £34,999 wage bracket.

Over half of all people surveyed believe that struggling to get a good night’s sleep has an impact on their mental health. And it is the youngest age group – 18-24-year-olds – that appears to be the hardest hit mentally by struggling to get a good night’s sleep. Women appear to suffer more than men.

The research also revealed over a third (38%) of people who work said that money worries have stopped them from getting a good night’s sleep. It appears that women are more likely to stay awake worrying about money (44%), compared to men (34%).

25 to 34 year-olds are most likely to have sleepless nights because of financial concerns (48%), followed by 18 to 24 year-olds (44%). In contrast, only 27% of over 55s are kept awake at night worrying about money.

Bratley concludes, “Our research shows the connection between mental health and debt, highlighting the need for employers to focus on this aspect of staff wellbeing. Given that the total cost of poor mental health to the economy is between £74 billion and £99 billion per year[6], it is clear employers have a role to play in creating a positive workplace that offers a safe space for staff by having good processes in place.”

Moneyhub secures FCA authorisation to enable payments

Moneyhub has secured Payment Initiation Services Provider (PISP) authorisation by the FCA, cementing its place as a pioneer of open banking. The authorisation goes one step further from Account Information Services Provider (AISP) status, enabling seamless payments as well as visibility of all financial transactions across accounts in one place.

Alongside giving control of payments, income, expenditure, investments, pensions and savings, Moneyhub has also launched its API gateway. The gateway will offer the largest ‘one stop shop’ of personalised, permission based, financial data sources, and will give businesses’ own development teams access to the most comprehensive source of data streams, helping them to build innovative customer centric solutions.

Companies can benefit from the optimisation of these data sources, as the price, data richness and frequency of data update will be factored into an automated selection process to best suit the business model and customer requirements.

The Moneyhub API gateway has a unique pricing structure in that it offers the more traditional “per account” model but can also provide a “per user” model. The “per user” model aligns to most consumer propositions and for developers, it simplifies the integration of individuals with multiple accounts.

Samantha Seaton, CEO of Moneyhub, commented: “The introduction of Open Banking has been transformative for people’s relationships with their finances but its potential is only just being realised. We are delighted that as one of the first regulated providers of Open Banking technologies, we have been at the forefront of developing payment capabilities and have now secured FCA approval as a Payment Initiation Services Provider. This means we can empower our clients to advance their customer centric propositions. Frictionless Finance has arrived.”

“The end of tedious financial administration on the journey to ever increasing financial wellbeing starts here. We’re delighted to also launch our API gateway, which has the most comprehensive data sources. It will power a new wave of innovation that will revolutionise people’s relationship with money and the way they buy products and services.”

Moneyhub has worked closely with the Open Banking Implementation Entity to define the standard for UK Banking APIs, and continues to play a key role in the European Parliament’s PSD2 workshops which focuses on delivering innovative and secure payment solutions across the EU.

Moneyhub also provides Connect, a tool used by professionals that enables secure, real-time, two-way data sharing. It’s a secure, scalable platform that businesses can either deploy as a white labelled solution or integrate via API. This capability along with the breadth of data sources, industry expertise and pricing models means Moneyhub is able to help companies improve engagement and build innovative and effective strategies.

Comment: July GDP figures, UK economy rebounds with 0.4% in Q2

“The Office for National Statistics released Q2 real GDP growth data this morning, and according to the first estimate the economy grew by 0.4% quarter on quarter in April to June (equivalent to a 1.3% year-on-year increase). This was twice the rate seen in the first quarter, when adverse weather conditions held back growth. The sectoral picture is mixed: services and construction expanded robustly, while production fell by 0.8% q/q.

Today’s data release is in line with Dun & Bradstreet’s expectations of a gradual – albeit very modest – recovery, and we have therefore upgraded the market environment outlook from ‘deteriorating’ to ‘stable’. However, we are maintaining our ‘deteriorating’ overall country risk outlook for the UK given the plethora of downside risks: these range from poor payments performance, higher-than-normal insolvency risk (highlighted by recent developments at House of Fraser), sluggish productivity and wage growth and, most importantly, the lack of progress in Brexit talks.”

By Markus Kuger, Senior Economist at Dun & Bradstreet

Cambridge framework for Distributed Ledger systems

The Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance publishes the “Distributed Ledger Technology Systems” report to provide a common terminology and framework for distributed ledger technology (DLT) systems.

The Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance (CCAF) at the University of Cambridge Judge Business School today published a 109-page report on distributed ledger technology (DLT) systems that provides a formal definition and comparative framework for DLT systems.

The DLT ecosystem is currently plagued by the use of inconsistent definitions and lack of standardised terminology, so the report – entitled Distributed Ledger Technology Systems: A Conceptual Framework – provides an important practical structure in this fast-expanding area. (Please find a copy of the report attached at the bottom of this press release).

“The current inconsistency leads to frequent misunderstandings and misconceptions about the nature and capabilities of DLT systems,” said Michel Rauchs, CCAF Lead in Cryptocurrency and Blockchain. “In collaboration with an interdisciplinary group of researchers and industry experts, we have set out to provide a shared language and framework for the analysis and comparison of these systems.”

Specifically, the report sets out a list of key characteristics of a DLT system, which must be capable of ensuring: shared recordkeeping; multi-party consensus on a shared set of records; independent validation by each participant; evidence of non-consensual changes; and resistance to tampering.

The report also clarifies the forms of data within a DLT structure, by classifying the data as “transactions”, “logs”, “records”, “journals” and “ledger” – based on the extent the data has been processed by a DLT system’s network. The final outcome – the “ledger” – is defined as a set of records “held in common by a substantial proportion of network participants”.

Although DLT systems emerged conceptually back in 1982, and the “blockchain” concept can be traced to 1991, the recent flurry of interest and activity surrounding these technologies in the absence of a clear framework has resulted in the current inconsistency and confusion.

The report’s definitions and framework are designed to serve as a multi-dimensional tool for policymakers, industry participants, researchers and investors to gain a better understanding of the characteristics and inner workings of a DLT system, and the roles that various actors play in the system.

The framework is applied in the report to six case studies of existing DLT systems – Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, Alastria, Verified.me, and an anonymised DLT system – to illustrate its use for performing a comparative analysis.

A DLT system consists of three main layers (protocol, network, and data), which can be further broken down into a set of interconnected components and processes. It is the combination and interactions of these small and rather simple processes that together form a complex and dynamic system.

The report outlines various configuration options for each process and demonstrates how specific design choices can lead to different system properties and characteristics. A key takeaway is that trade-offs are inherent to DLT systems, and move along a spectrum according to specific security assumptions, threat models, and trust relationships.

Bryan Zhang, CCAF Executive Director and Co-Founder, says: “Without undertaking a systematic and holistic approach, attention and analysis can be narrowly devoted to fractions, parts, and the surface of the phenomenon, rather than the whole. By adopting a systems perspective, hopefully we can develop a more nuanced understanding of the complex and living DLT ecosystem.”

SFP saves recruitment agency and all jobs

Nationwide insolvency practitioner, SFP, has completed a sale of the business and assets of Paterson Group, a recruitment business, saving the jobs of all 55 employees in the process.

Paterson began trading in Abingdon in 1972. The company has grown over the last 40 years and now has offices in Bicester, Oxford, Witney and Aylesbury, that provide staffing solutions for various sectors including Accountancy, Estate Agency, Logistics, Catering, and Cleaning.

Despite turning over approximately £12 million in 2017, the company ran into financial difficulties due to a troubled investment and significant HMRC arrears.

SFP’s Simon Plant and Daniel Plant were appointed Joint Administrators of the Company on 17th July 2018 by Order of the Court.

“This was a well-established business that had serious potential. To ensure the position for creditors was maximised a significant marketing exercise was undertaken to drum up interest and offers,” says Joint Administrator, Simon Plant. “A number of bids were made for the business – some more serious than others – and ultimately a very positive outcome was achieved in completing a going concern sale.

“The buyer, Paterson Personnel Limited (PPL) is headed up by former management and a third party,” Simon continues. “This mix makes for an exciting new chapter as PPL looks to press on and grow the business.”

Cabot Credit Management delivers strong performance and continued growth as Encore takes the helm

Cabot Credit Management (Cabot), a market leader in European credit management services, today announced the financial results for the six months ending 30th June 2018.

• Capital deployment of £160m at consistent returns
• Continued robust UK back book performance
• Servicing revenue +189% vs H1’17, now 22% of total revenue
• Underlying margins consistent with 2017 – last 12 month Adjusted EBITDA margin 63%
• On track to delivery £6m annual synergies from UK servicing restructure
• Maintaining balance sheet discipline – leverage stable at 4.2x with available liquidity at £153m at 30 June 2018
• Successfully executed bond exchange in July 2018, improving maturity profile and aligning covenants
• Encore acquisition of remaining interest in Cabot completed 24 July 2018

Ken Stannard, Chief Executive Officer, Cabot Credit Management, said: “As Encore announces the completion of its acquisition of the remaining interest in Cabot Credit Management, our company has yet again delivered an excellent quarter with year to date revenues growing 26% compared to the prior year, and delivering Adjusted EBITDA of £318m for the last twelve months.

“Wescot continues to perform strongly as it captures emerging market opportunities, with service revenue now representing 22% of our total revenue. “Our UK back book continues to provide consistent cash generation as we work with our customers to help them achieve their own financial recovery, with 72% of our payments generated from an average of 868,000 regular players each month, and breakage rates remaining at historically low levels.

“We continue to maintain a robust liquidity position, prudent leverage and strong track record of delivering results. This is reflected by the fact that Moody’s upgraded the long term rating of Cabot from B2 to B1 at the end of June and S&P put us on positive outlook. After the end of the quarter, we also successfully closed our bond exchange transaction, enabling us to improve our maturity profile and align bond covenants.”