CaptureOne of the UK’s leading providers of financial web services Unified Software is urging businesses to be prepared to keep pace with Bacs payment security changes directly affecting thousands of companies across the country.

The Bacs network is the payment transaction service used by 95 per cent of the 130,000 businesses in the North East and the 5.4m businesses across the UK as part of the Faster Payment Service introduced in 2008.

Of those businesses using Bacs almost 70,000 process their Direct Debit payments directly using Bacs Approved Software with all other businesses using a third party Bacs Approved Bureau Solution (BABS) company to do so on their behalf.

Award winning Houghton-le-Spring based Unified Software was the first company in the UK to provide web based financial services and now has customers that include JP Morgan, BT, Greenpeace and MoneySuperMarket.com.

Unified Software’s managing director George Barron, who co-founded the so-called FinTech (Financial Technology) business in 2003 with his wife Christine Forsyth, now the company’s finance director, said:

“Recent well publicised security breaches have highlighted how customers have had their secure banking information compromised so security online is very topical.

“This year Bacs is implementing a planned significant upgrade of the system’s security protocols to ensure that it keeps pace with advances in technology therefore maintaining the integrity of the system particularly in respect of cyber fraud.

“By upgrading its cryptographic protocols to keep its system as safe as possible Bacs is being responsible but it may also have the effect of catching some businesses out who connect to the Bacs service either via software or the Payment Services website.”

“The new upgrades are highly technical and called SHA-256 and TLS1.1 / 1.2 but, put simply, secure the integrity of the link between the Bacs network and the customer.

“The problem arises if companies are not aware of this year’s upgrade and continue using payment gateways that will ultimately become incompatible with the upgraded Bacs network as soon as June 13 this year when the first security upgrades are applied. This is in advance of a wider move to new standards by the internet community by 2017.

“Continuing to use out dated software including browsers and operating systems to connect with the Payment System website afterJune 13 could have a negative knock on effect. In fact many businesses are not even aware of how their Bacs Direct Debit payments work, because they always have.

“Awareness is the problem and if this issue is not looked at in time by the businesses affected it could result in payment delays, inconvenience and potentially cost money and credibility.

“Businesses in any doubt can visit the Bacs website http://www.bacs.co.uk and search for more information or speak to their own IT provider or bank.”

Since 2003 Unified’s secure banking validation services have been enabling businesses to process their payments whilst vastly reducing the risk of payment failure by identifying data errors with account numbers or sort codes.

Now, with the launch of its new product, BankPay MS (Management System) together with its existing suite of products Unified provides full payment cycle services from data validation to payment completion which enables businesses to remove errors and therefore greatly improve the integrity of their payments system.

George explains: “Some businesses such as energy companies and bidding websites can have upwards of 1 million payment transactions a month. Our services, which automatically check the data before any payments are completed, result in a significant time saving and better security which is so important.

“This is possible because our software automatically validates against rules specified by the account holding banks. It also uses bank reference data to check that an account is suitable for certain types of transactions such as Direct Debit.”