Payments Council Produces Guidelines on Account Numbers Format
The Payments Council is honouring its commitment, made in the National Payments Plan, to evaluate the problems linked to using non-standard format account numbers. It has developed best practice guidelines to encourage adoption of standard account numbers, as well as assist those financial institutions that still use non-standard account numbers.
The National Payments Plan, published in May 2008, revealed that some users experience difficulty when making payments with non-standard account numbers; for example, their payments may be prone to delay, or setting up a direct debit may be more difficult. In response to this, the Payments Council undertook an extensive consultation with stakeholders and has designed best practice guidelines to reduce the impact of non-standardised account numbers on users. The guidelines will be applicable to all financial institutions, and are available to download from www.paymentscouncil.org.uk.
The key recommendations for banks currently using non-standard account number formats include:
In cases where the first two recommendations cannot be applied, other suggestions include:
Mike Alexander, the chairman of the Payment Council Large Corporate User Forum and an independent director on the Payment Council Board, said: “It’s a bugbear of all businesses, large and small, when they come across non-standard account numbers. Best practice, if followed by as many parties as possible, could make a considerable improvement to the processing difficulties those businesses have and the amount of time spent on manually repairing data when it doesn’t work as it should.”
The Payments Council will evaluate the effectiveness of these guidelines as part of the triennial review of the National Payments Plan in 2011.