NatWest’s head of payments reveals biggest ‘pain point’ for customers

Ellie Duncan
25 Apr 2024

New Authorised Push Payment (APP) draft legislation published by government might provide “an appropriate amount of friction” in the payment journey, according to NatWest’s head of payments Simon Eacott.

The legislation, published in March, would allow banks to delay payments by up to four business days should they suspect fraudulent activity, as part of a government amendment to the Payment Services Regulations 2017.

Eacott told Open Banking Expo that the draft legislation means that payment service providers “may be able to appropriately hold payments” in the fight against APP fraud.

Simon Eacott

Simon Eacott, head of payments at NatWest

When asked about the main pain points for the bank’s customers, Eacott cited fraud, calling it an industry-wide problem.

He said that, at NatWest, prevention is “an area of focus” and that, with APP fraud, it is about “having infrastructure that doesn’t just support customers after the event”, but which detects fraud before it takes place.

Eacott explained that using behavioural data “effectively” can help with what he called “breaking the spell” – when a potential victim is “under the spell of a fraudster”.

“We already share quite a lot of data with industry, we could share more and are working on this. We are sharing more intelligence with other sectors, such as telco and tech now, where many fraud and scams originate, but there is a lot more work to do,” Eacott said.

NatWest, which processes one in four transactions in the UK, recently became the first UK bank to be accepted onto the Crown Commercial Service’s new Dynamic Purchasing System as a supplier for Open Banking services.

It means that public sector entities in the UK, including central government, local authorities, NHS, police, education providers, devolved administrations and charities, will be able to access NatWest’s Payit Open Banking solutions and Confirmation of Payee API, which aids in fraud prevention.

Eacott believes that the UK is “getting to a point where Open Banking takes off” and that, for NatWest, it is about “not just doing the regulatory minimum”.

The payments industry is at “an inflection point” in the UK, according to Eacott, who noted that NatWest supported the recommendations made in Joe Garner’s Future of Payments Review, published last November.

The former chief executive officer of Nationwide, who led the independent review, identified the need for consumer protection or a dispute resolution mechanism for payments via Open Banking.