Bacs changes name and targets global markets

Bacs, the UK clearing house, has renamed itself Voca as part of a plan to target the global payments market following a £75m...

Bacs, the UK clearing house, has renamed itself Voca as part of a plan to target the global payments market following a £75m overhaul of its technology.

The clearing house, which processes the nation’s direct debits and wages, is keen to capitalise on its new IP-based network by offering payment services to clearing houses and businesses worldwide.

It believes that the European payment clearing market is ripe for consolidation. That could pave the way for a handful of organisations to offer regional payment services within the euro zone.

David Sear, chief marketing officer at Voca said, "[The new name] is about how we are attacking the global payments market for electronic payments. We have a new name and a new remit."

Earlier this year, in partnership with a US software supplier, Voca launched an online bill presentation and payment service for UK banks. So far HSBC and Lloyds TSB have signed up for the service.

Meanwhile, Voca is currently migrating 50,000 corporate customers on to its IP network. Users have until the end of 2005 to upgrade their Bacs connection software before the old network is switched off.

Voca’s customers will also have to ensure that their payroll suppliers have updated their software so that payroll details can be transferred in a suitable format to Bacs' IP network.

The new IP network, which will be secured by Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) technology, is central to a £75m update of Voca’s IT systems.

In 2001, Computer Weekly revealed that the multibillion-pound clearing network was vulnerable to hacking attacks because the Voca board, then known as Bacs, had failed to implement recommendations from its IT department to introduce a PKI security system and services. Bacs denied that the network was vulnerable and insisted that its security was first class.

The new IP network will allow companies to receive electronic conformation that a payment has been received by Voca rather than by post, as occured under the old system.

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