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The Analysis News & Opinions

MP calls for ‘project bank accounts’

A prominent MP has hosted a ‘ten-minute rule bill’ calling for payments on government and public authority contracts to be made via a ‘project bank account’ system. Debbie Abrahams, MP for Oldham East

and Saddleworth, proposed the bill – entitled Public Sector Supply Chains (Project Bank Accounts) Bill – with the aim of protecting firms against losses, such as created by the collapse of the construction giant Carillion. She said: “My bill aims to set in law

the requirement that parties delivering government and public authority work, from the lead contractor right down through the supply chain, will receive payment from the same secure ‘pot’ of money. “Late payment by large firms is a massive

issue across all business sectors leading to billions of pounds being owed to smaller companies for work that has been done.

“When payments take a long time working

along a supply chain from the contracting authority there is a risk the cash could be cut off at any time because of payer insolvency. “We witnessed the catastrophic effect this

has with the collapse of Carillion, with £2bn of unpaid invoices to their smaller suppliers. The precarious position of other major government contractors like Interserve means urgent action is required.”

‘Design out’ threats

The government has put forward funding aimed at eradicating damaging cyber-security threats facing businesses. The proposed investment will aim to

increase security and protections built into digital devices and online services. This will be made up of up to £70m in government investment through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund and backed by further investment from industry. Nearly all UK businesses are reliant on

digital technology and online services, yet more than 40% have experienced a cyber- security breach or attack in the last 12 months. Hackable home wi-fi routers can be used by attackers in botnets to attack major services and firms. Consumers are often affected by mass information leaks. Businesses are having to spend increasing

amounts on cyber security, up to 20% to 40% of their IT spend in some cases. And, as ever more systems are connected, whether in the home or businesses, there is a need for security that is secure by design.

February 2019 This investment will support research into

the design and development of hardware to be more secure and resilient from the outset. This aims to ‘design out’ cyber threats by ‘designing in’ security and protection into hardware and chip designs. A further £30m government investment

will aim to ensure smart systems are safe and secure. There are expected to be more than 420 million such devices in use across the UK within the next three years. Business secretary Greg Clark said: “With

businesses having to invest more and more in cyber security, ‘designing in’ security measures into the hardware’s fabric will not only protect our businesses and consumers but ultimately cut cyber-security costs.” Opinion

The first anniversary of Open Banking

Sunday 13 January 2019 was the first anniversary of Open Banking, the central element of the remedies package we put in place to tackle the competition problems we found in our market investigation into the UK’s retail-banking market. We found older, larger banks do not have

to work hard enough for customers’ business, but smaller and newer banks found it difficult to grow and access the market. As a result, bigger banks had commanded a very large share of the market for decades. We believe the adoption of Open Banking technology and processes (specifically, common and open standards for data, security and APIs) has the potential to revolutionise the banking market by allowing new, innovative providers of banking services into the market. Open Banking has already made huge

strides over the past 12 months, though it is still in the initial stages of roll-out. We are delighted that around 200 organisations are now in the process of coming onboard, including some of the major technology companies, and we anticipate this technology will revolutionise how banking operates and people manage money in the years ahead. Last month, I was invited to make a

keynote speech at FinTech Taipei on how we have led on open banking in the UK and to participate in panels with industry regulators, bank representatives and fintechs. It was clear at this conference that the UK

is still the global pioneer in Open Banking, although other jurisdictions are following us rapidly, including: Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Canada, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, and Taiwan. As one speaker said, this global pattern of

adoption is beginning to resemble not so much a splash or a wave, but a tide, which we expect will continue to gain momentum in the year ahead.

Bill Roberts Head of Open Banking, the Competition and Markets Authority


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