UK’s new core payments systems goes live without a hitch

The core system behind the UK’s 5.5 billion automated payments – worth £3tn a year – has been completely replaced by payments services provider Voca without a blip.

The core system behind the UK’s 5.5 billion automated payments – worth £3tn a year – has been completely replaced by payments services provider Voca without a blip. 

The Voca new payments engine processes the UK’s direct debits, direct credits and standing orders. It handles over 90% of salaries, 70% of household bill payments and most state benefits.

The old mainframe system has now been replaced by a new IP-based engine in a £100m IT programme, coordinated between Voca and the UK banking industry.

The replacement was carried out on schedule and without disruption to the public, after several months in which the two systems were run in parallel to confirm that they produced fully reconciled outputs.

The new engine was built by Voca on behalf of BACS Payment Schemes Limited and its 13 member banks. It is designed to handle the expected 12% year-on-year growth in UK electronic transactions, enable new payments services and support banks as they migrate to the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA).

The new system’s scalability means it can process the equivalent of the European Union’s entire daily automated payments volume in four hours and can handle multi-currency payments.
 
Steve Grigg, chief operations officer of Voca, said, “This was no ordinary IT programme. It was of significance not only to Voca but also to the wider banking community. It’s one of the largest and most complex IT programmes ever undertaken in the UK and represents a fundamentally different approach for the banking industry.”
 
The payments engine has been built with open standards technology, and developed in Java using the BEA Weblogic 8.0 application server running on the latest Oracle 10g database. It runs on two Sun F25000 servers configured as a cluster. The payments engine is now one of the largest J2EE business applications in the world.

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