On 30th July 2018, The Access Bank UK Limited became a full participant of the Cheque and Credit Clearing Company’s Image Clearing System (ICS), bringing the total number of participants in the ICS to 18. The Access Bank UK Limited is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Access Bank Plc, a Nigerian Stock Exchange-listed company, and the UK plays a key role in the group’s vision to be the world’s most respected African bank. The Access Bank UK previously used agency bank facilities to participate in the UK payment schemes. The host bank sought to change that relationship and so the Board of The Access Bank UK decided that it was competitively advantageous and good for existing customers to join the payment schemes themselves. During 2018 The Access Bank UK joined BACS, Faster Payments and the Image Clearing Service (ICS).
As part of the transition to become a direct participant The Access Bank UK needed to be able to capture, scan and transmit secure data files and images, in the complex and exacting C&CCC industry formats, to present cheques for clearing via the new Image Clearing System. The bank received cheques from customers to its central processing centre in Northwich where cheque scanning equipment used to capture customer cheques was installed.
“Hague remain one of the few companies who are able to offer cheque scanning solutions which can be relatively quickly and easily implemented in a bespoke way for financial service providers, the phased roll-out of cheque imaging is continuing.”
Payment Industry Expert and ex-Head of Payments Strategy for Lloyds Banking Group
Research identified a single partner that The Access Bank UK could work with to deliver the ICS who had already delivered the ICS service for a similarly sized financial services organisation – Hague Software Solutions Ltd, part of the Hague Group of companies. Hague’s experience in the cheque processing marketplace for many years and their current and continued work with clients ensured that the cheque scanning applications known as Solchar could be suitably tailored to meet the requirements of the C&CCC. We quickly established a test system against which Hague developed the functionality to meet both the bespoke requirements of The Access Bank UK and the specifications published by C&CCC. Following testing, a live implementation of scanning capability in the central processing centre to assure the project team that the delivered functionality was functioning correctly. Subsequent testing with the industry quickly demonstrated the simplicity of the solution and The Access Bank UK were able to support many other participants in their testing effort and promptly deliver a successful Go Live.
Through the implementation of ICS The Access Bank UK has benefited by continuing to offer customers cheque clearing services which are important to continue to grow its customer base, is able to strengthen information governance through robust transaction and audit logs whilst answering customer queries without reference to paper trails. External storage of cheque records has been reduced and so a small financial saving will be available.
“It is great news that The Access Bank UK has become a participant in the Image Clearing System using Hague’s technology. Simplifying the payments marketplace and reducing barriers to entry is one of our key business objectives, so we are pleased that our participant numbers continue to increase through opening up access to cheques for banks, building societies and non-bank payment service providers alike.”
General Manager of the C&CCC,
Hague has also replicated this project and delivered another direct participant in Turkish Bank who previously used agency bank facilities to participate in the UK payment schemes and are now using Solchar to securely submit files and images into the Image Clearing Service.