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28 July 2015

Building a digital government on existing foundations

 
Charles Southwood,
Director, Government Services,
VocaLink

The government is the biggest user of the UK’s payments system, with virtually all state benefits being paid through VocaLink’s infrastructure. When the DWP moved to paying benefits electronically into recipients’ bank accounts, it was a case of taking advantage of an infrastructure that already existed. The cost to the public purse fell from a pound per transaction to just a penny.

HMRC has repurposed the payments infrastructure to collect real-time information, the foundation for a more user-centric and efficient tax system. In banking, the government’s desire for faster and easier current account switching led to the implementation of the seven-day current account switch service, again built on existing payments infrastructure. This system not only broadens customer choice but was built at a lower cost than alternative “from scratch” systems.

VocaLink’s payments infrastructures include the real-time 24/7 payments system that underpins fundamental societal and economic services. Last year the company processed more than 10 billion transactions with a combined value of £6trillion, more than 3.5 times the UK’s GDP. These systems therefore provide the government with a secure and resilient infrastructure capable of meeting its digital ambitions, allowing it to deliver services that are defined by the needs of the user.

As the government drives forward with its policies for “Digital by Default” we see the use of open data, APIs and the ongoing programme of channel-shift, all requiring the citizen to have trust in the system. By providing certainty in the resilience of its systems and the safety of the data, VocaLink has already earned this trust.

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