Confirmation of Payee: Safer payments need service ubiquity

It all stared with a Which? Super Complaint in 2017 demanding that banks in the UK must do more to protect its customers from Authorised Push Payment (APP) fraud.

In 2020 the Confirmation of Payee (CoP) service was launched in UK to help reduce fraud and misdirected payments.

Confirmation of Payee helps protect consumers and businesses from certain types of fraud and misdirected payments by letting them know if the account name they have entered matches the account name of the recipient.

The Confirmation of Payee service seeks to give businesses and consumers greater assurance that they are sending payments to the intended recipient.

Whilst not a silver bullet, the implementation of Confirmation of Payee is expected be an effective way of combatting Authorised Push Payment Scams (e.g. where a fraudster tricks their victims into willingly making a large bank transfer to them).

Confirmation of Payee also helps to avoid payments being sent to the wrong account due to ‘fat fingers’ (keyboard errors) when we type in somebody’s Sort Code and Account Number.

Safer payments need service ubiquity 

Earlier this year Northey Point stated that ‘safer payments need service ubiquity’ – here’s our blog: CoP 6 month scorecard.

Following two very nervous payments over the past few months – one to HMRC and one to a company – a ubiquitous and ‘always on’ Confirmation of Payee service cannot come soon enough. 

Making payments and having to click a number of ‘scam check’ and liability boxes without the comfort of Confirmation of Payee checks puts the payer in an increasingly difficult and vulnerable position.

Confirmation of Payee – extended capability

Pay.UK have announced that from July 2021, the reach of the Confirmation of Payee Service (CoP) will be extended with a revised capability and simplified processes.

This is the next stage to ensure the value of CoP can be introduced more widely to new participants should they choose to participate. In turn, this will increase the number of customers that can benefit from CoP following its successful introduction in 2020.

Existing CoP participants are supporting this change and are planning to adopt this new capability before the end of 2021. This is a key step which delivers ubiquity and certainty for new participants who were previously unable to participate in the Service. Pay.UK will continue to support all Participants with this important next step for CoP.

New firms planning on participating in CoP are invited to contact Pay.UK so they can advise on the application options available and how to get involved.

Why is CoP not a mandatory requirement on all PSP’s?

The eagle eyed will have noticed the words in Pay.UK’s statement: “…should they choose to participate…”.

UK Finance report that the industry prevented £1.6 billion of fraud in 2020. It achieved this through sophisticated detection systems, initiatives like Confirmation of Payee and warnings at the point where the customer is about to make a payment.

Despite this, In 2020 we saw total fraud as reported by UK Finance members reach just over £1.26 billion. While we have seen figures for what we might call traditional fraud such as card and cheque fraud fall, we have seen increases in remote banking fraud and cases of authorised push payment (APP) fraud.

For the benefit of the PSP’s, to protect the payer and to thwart the fraudster surely service ubiquity should be mandated by the regulator and not be left as an optional extra?

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