Former Reuters IT chief fills the hot seat at Bacs

UK bank clearing house Bacs has appointed David Morgan, former chief information officer at Reuters, as its IT director.

UK bank clearing house Bacs has appointed David Morgan, former chief information officer at Reuters, as its IT director.

Morgan's role in charge of the IT behind the multi-billion-pound clearing network is one of the most prestigious in the industry - but it is also one of the most pressurised.

Last June Bacs' previous IT director Tim Gregory resigned after only 13 months in the job. He is now IT director at a professional services company.

Bacs, which processes the nation's direct debits and credits, is committed to a major overhaul of its IT systems. It has also faced mounting pressure from industry to modernise its payment services, which are still based on laborious batch processing methods.

Last year Bacs was forced to defend itself after Computer Weekly revealed that its clearing network was vulnerable to hacking due to its failure to implement public key infrastructure (PKI) security technology.

Following the revelation, Bacs came under fire from business groups for failing to use the latest security technology. It responded by saying its security measures were under review.

As Bacs' IT director, Morgan will need to guide the board's IT strategy and achieve the balancing act of maintaining service levels while driving through change.

"IT directors are about change and stability," explained David Rippon, chairman of Elite, the IT directors forum. "You need adequate service levels but you can never stand still."

Bacs was originally committed to rolling out an IP-based network this quarter in a bid to slash the three-day cycle for clearing payments. However, now there is no deadline for rolling out the new network, according to sources inside Bacs.

The network overhaul is part of a £60m, four-year shake-up of Bacs' IT that includes plans to allow member banks to develop next-day payment services for processing direct debits.

There are also ongoing discussions within Bacs about a radical restructuring that could let non-banks become shareholders and enable Web-based payment services.

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