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ELEXON are trusted, independent and reliable market experts that compare how much electricity generators and suppliers say they will produce or consume with actual volumes.
It works out a price for the difference and transfers funds. This involves taking 1.25 million meter readings every day and handling £1.5 billion of customers’ funds each year.
ELEXON compares how much electricity generators and suppliers said they would produce or consume with actual volumes. It administers the Balancing and Settlement Code which is a legal framework that sets out strict guidelines for how any differences are calculated and funds transferred to settle these. Annual payments totaling £1.5 billion combined with daily payment volumes that average £5m but can reach as high as £30m require ELEXON to use robust and secure payments technology.
Darren Draper is the Finance Systems and Operations Manager. For nearly ten years, he has managed the transaction, payment and treasury processes for the utility company. He is a firm advocate for the PTX Payments and Business Solution Suite from Bottomline which is used by ELEXON as a centralised platform for Bacs payroll payments and Direct Debit collections.
ELEXON’s journey with Bottomline began when the company had too many demands for online banking to handle. It needed to be able to make indirect submissions to Bacs by sending payments via a bank or bureau. Following a recommendation by its bank, Draper arranged a solution demonstration from Bottomline Technologies.
The utility company underwent a seamless upgrade from its online banking platform for payments to the new system. The implementation was incredibly smooth, as Draper explains, “Bottomline experts were able to set up the different profiles, workflow rules and map the file types to get us into live testing in less than a day.” Following the initial implementation, ELEXON moved quickly to leverage PTX to its other business units so the security and efficiency benefits could be felt across the company.
ELEXON benefits from enhanced security through PTX’s Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA). Draper adds, “MFA is invaluable in helping us to meet General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) commitments. It ensures that access to PTX is highly secure and gives us an additional layer of authentication which is particularly valuable when making high-value payments.” MFA allows different business units to remotely access PTX to create, review and approve payments.
ELEXON’s internal finance system creates the relevant payment files and saves these to a network location. Draper says, “In a fraction of a second, PTX moves the file and uploads it for immediate processing. This is one of my favourite features as the automation eliminates any possibility of tampering with that payment file which is important for sensitive data such as salaries. PTX helps to minimise the risk of fraud and gives us complete confidence in the security and robustness of our payment lifecycle.”
ELEXON uses PTX to effectively manage the roles and responsibilities amongst the finance and operations team. The workflow ensures that two members of staff must be involved in creating a payment or changing an existing payment. This Segregation of Duty is a powerful fraud prevention control that limits opportunities for internal fraud.
PTX also verifies and validates payment files at the point of submission to Bacs. Using flexible automated rules, PTX checks for any first-time payments to accounts which can occur when new members of staff are paid for the first time.
Any potentially suspicious items are flagged for investigation. If there is a new bank account for payment, this information can be cross-checked against the master data on the finance system. Other PTX rules check for duplicate payment amounts or beneficiaries. Together, these rules mitigate the risk of fraud or error.
Draper says, “PTX is a completely flexible payment solution for our differing business needs and we have been able to progressively use the platform more over time. It offers a single, secure platform to administer all of our payment requirements with dual control of admin changes, approvals, a full audit trail and all of our Bacs submissions in one place.”
“By streamlining the Direct Debit process, we have been able to increase the number of Direct Debit collections by 40% without any change in our resourcing." Darren Draper | Finance Systems and Operations Manager | Elexon
PTX has supported a major initiative to increase the number of Direct Debit collections. Moving away from paper-based forms gives ELEXON more control over the Direct Debit mandate creation process.
Draper adds, “Automating the Direct Debit process led to significant efficiency gains and time saving benefits. By streamlining the Direct Debit process, we have been able to increase the number of Direct Debit collections by 40% without any change in our resourcing. We receive cash more quickly, reconciliation takes less effort and any changes to mandates are notified to us through Bacs and PTX. We can then act on these, ensuring we minimise potential Bacs failures.”
PTX represents a significant improvement in how payments and collections are made at ELEXON. Draper concludes, “It is fundamental to our business that payments are secure and accurate. PTX plays a major role in achieving this. The on-going support and proactive advice from Bottomline means that we achieve best practice standards for payments. The sales and account managers are excellent, knowledgeable and responsive to any requests and I am confident that PTX can cater to any change in our requirements. I would definitely recommend PTX to organisations wanting reliable, accurate and above all secure payments technology.”
Independent Living Fund Scotland is a Scottish Government Public Body and when changes in Bacs security meant an upgrade was required to their on-premise payment system, some new thinking took place.
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