2015 has been a momentous year for VocaLink within a changing payments industry.
Across our core contracts, our continued focus on providing value for our customers resulted in a 92% customer satisfaction score. The success of our core business is of fundamental importance to our future, in proving our capabilities to win competitive contracts for new international customers in the USA and Thailand, as well as the continued development of our Zapp and Payments Data Insights businesses.
The introduction of the new Payments Systems Regulator has heralded a renewed focus on user interests, competition and innovation in UK payments. We see the importance of these objectives as we continue to innovate and develop our business in an ever more competitive market. None of the success of the business during 2015 would have been possible without the dedication of our team, and I thank them for their hard work, as we look forward to the challenges of 2016.
Our UK core business is important to us as a key linchpin of our success. I am pleased that we have built upon last year’s successful renewal of long term contracts with Bacs and Faster Payments and have delivered an excellent service to our customers again. In 2015, our business processed more than 11 billion transactions. UK Faster Payments reached a new daily record of almost 18 million transactions. For Bacs, we processed a record total of over 6 billion transactions and for the first time exceeded 100 million transactions in a day. Direct Debits grew by 236 million, establishing a new high benchmark for growth. While the Current Account Switch Service facilitated over 1 million successful account transfers.
Innovation and creativity have been key drivers across all of our businesses. Our UK ATM network connects over 70,000 ATMs, which supported 2.1 billion cash withdrawal transactions and 3.6 million mobile phone top-ups during 2015. Our new Stand-In Processing Services enable bank customers to withdraw their cash at an ATM even when their bank is unavailable. In 2016, we will harness the availability and resilience of the LINK Scheme to explore how we can offer customers new services and a richer banking experience outside of their bank.
We have also continued to provide excellent value to our existing customers in Singapore and Sweden.
Since March 2014, we have provided technology and support for Singapore’s Fast and Secure Transfers (FAST) project, which has operated at 100% availability since launch. In September 2015, five new member banks joined FAST. The level of innovation in Singapore has been immense – many business processes have been streamlined and Singapore is propagating a real-time financial ecosystem. We believe that VocaLink technology will transform other economies in this way.
Throughout the year we have invested in the right technology and talent to ensure that all of our systems continue to offer near-100% availability and that they remain secure. I am pleased that our excellent products, together with our focused customer service, has provided value to our customers. This value has been recognised by our customers who have awarded us a 92% customer satisfaction score for 2015.
Our proven track record in the UK, Singapore and Sweden, together with our investment in innovation has meant that we have won new customers, both internationally and in new product areas during 2015. Our Immediate Payments Solution embraces all that is good about Faster Payments, but is even richer in functionality and built to the ISO 20022 standard. This standard is of great importance in the international market and has fuelled many constructive conversations with other countries. I am delighted and proud to report that our discussions are now bearing fruit.
In October we announced an agreement with National ITMX Co. Ltd, Thailand’s main interbank payments infrastructure provider, to develop the plans for the introduction of mobile payments underpinned by our immediate payments platform as a strategic platform in Thailand. We believe this has immense potential and will transform the way business is done throughout Thailand.
Building on that success, in December we signed a contract with The Clearing House to develop a national real-time payments service in the US. Since the US is the world’s largest payment area, this is an exciting project for VocaLink to lead. It is an endorsement of our international strategy and confirms the importance of real-time technology in aligning payments with the digital economy.
“This partnership with VocaLink represents a significant milestone in our effort to make ubiquitous real-time payments a reality in the US. Once completed, customers will pay or receive money in real-time from any financial institution, and with its innovative extensible design the system will be built to provide the basis for payment solutions currently unimagined.”
PRESIDENT & CEO, THE CLEARING HOUSE
We also intend to participate in the modernisation of European payments. There is currently no real-time national infrastructure in the eurozone and instant payments is the next stage of SEPA. We know that VocaLink has the right technology, people and service culture to play a transformational role and several vital discussions are underway.
This year’s achievements clearly demonstrate that we are shaping the global payments landscape.
Back in the UK, we have been further developing our Zapp and Payments Data Insights businesses. Zapp is delivering the Pay by Bank app to mobile devices, to enable real-time payments and billing with enhanced fraud protection. We plan to go live with Barclays as our first UK bank partner in 2016, after intensive testing during 2015. Similarly, the Payments Data Insights business delivers value through analysing payments data. Our first proof of concept was successfully delivered in 2015. Such innovations in the wider payments market are an exciting addition to our core and international businesses.
In April 2015, the new UK Payment System Regulator began its work to forward the interests of users and to promote competition and innovation. We support these objectives and believe that we are well placed to aid the new regulator’s work through the innovation we have demonstrated to date. We are also used to working in a competitive market space, both in the UK and internationally, and look forward to engaging with the regulator as it completes its current reviews into the UK’s payments infrastructure and indirect access.
The regulator has also established the Payments Strategy Forum, which is formed of individuals from the industry and is charged to develop strategy for the industry. One of the key areas of interest for the Forum has been to see a Request-to-Pay capability for the UK. We have already developed the Request-to-Pay function as a key facet of our Zapp product, and we are working with the Forum to enable this commercial innovation from Zapp to be brought to market for the benefit of users.
Our team is at the heart of our success and ability to expand our business. We have invested in people to keep us at the forefront of payments innovation and have opened a new London office. This ensures that we attract and retain the best talent and increase collaboration. Today, VocaLink is ranked as one of the best companies to work for in the UK.*
As you can see, 2015 has been a truly remarkable year for VocaLink. We have achieved a great deal in new markets but we have also retained a tight focus on our core commitments. During 2016 we will continue to ensure that all of our platforms operate flawlessly and that they are robust and secure.
I would like to thank all of my colleagues at VocaLink for their hard work and dedication, our Board for their advice and guidance and our customers and shareholders for their continued commitment and support.
I look forward to an exciting and prosperous 2016.