TechnologyAlarm as BACS deadline advanced

Alarm as BACS deadline advanced

Many of the UK's largest organisations will be forced to comply with a March deadline to switch to the new internet based BACS payment system - nine months earlier than the previous target.

The March deadline affects the likes of utilities, insurance firms and telcos, which rely on the X.400 messaging service to provide details of amendments and cancellations of direct debit payments.

BACS has been trying to promote awareness of the deadline, but Adrian Stafford-Jones, managing director of Albany Software, suggests that ‘it’s been difficult to get the right message across to the right people’.

‘There could be more problems with migration in March than December,’ Stafford-Jones added. ‘However, companies can always revert to a manual system for the time being. Otherwise, do they really want to rush the implementation?’

He revealed that some of Albany’s customers have decided to switch to a manual direct debit amendment system until they have properly planned the migration to BACSTEL-IP, of which X.400 is a part.

‘It’s going to happen. We’ve spoken to customers that will be doing it (working manually). It’s a business decision for them to take their time over the switch.’

However, this will not be an option for many big organisations, and only some have realised the implications, according to John Williams, product marketing manager at Eiger Systems.

‘The March deadline will affect larger companies more than SMEs. However, manual processing is far too much for large companies to deal with, so they’ll have to change by March,’ he said.

He suggests that one of the problems faced by BACS in encouraging companies to migrate to the new internet system has been the old system’s basic functionality.

Management consultancy Charteris has been charged by BACS to ensure its users have a smooth transition to the new system.

‘Charteris is working as an independent body. The vendors will provide the solutions, Charteris and BACS will act as honest brokers,’ says Rob Stone, principal consultant at Charteris.

David Sear, a director of BACS, commented: ‘From what we have seen so far from working with numerous early adopters, many corporate BACSTEL users do not have the internal resources to handle the company-wide issues of migration to the new system.’

The BACS/Charteris initiative, known as the BACSTEL-IP migration partnership, is designed to help corporate BACS users achieve a smooth transition from the existing BACSTEL system.

‘The Charteris situation could work really well,’ said Stafford-Jones.

‘But it does require that they have significant knowledge of the market and the product offerings available.’

DATES FOR BACSTEL-IP MIGRATION

September 2004 – Authentication service ceases. All users of this service should migrate by the end of the month

September 2004 – Cessation of data extracts on physical media and email

March 2005 – Cessation of X.400 service. Customers should migrate to BACSTEL-IP by the end of the month

December 2005 – BACSTEL turned off.

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