Tag Archives: Sajid Javid

Consumers and businesses set to benefit from guaranteed £5b investment into UK’s mobile infrastructure

base stnCulture Secretary Sajid Javid today (Thursday) announces a landmark deal with the four mobile networks to improve mobile coverage across the UK.

As part of its long-term economic plan, the Government has secured a binding agreement with the mobile networks EE, O2, Three and Vodafone to tackle poor signal issues in so-called ‘partial not-spots’.

These are areas within the UK that have coverage from some but not all of the four mobile networks. Depending on the network consumers are on, they may have no coverage in these areas.

Under the agreement all four of the mobile networks have collectively agreed to:

  • a guaranteed £5bn investment programme to improve mobile infrastructure by 2017;
  • guaranteed voice and text coverage from each operator across 90 per cent of the UK geographic area by 2017, halving the areas currently blighted by patchy coverage as a result of partial ‘not-spots’;
  • full coverage from all four mobile operators will increase from 69 per cent to 85 per cent of geographic areas by 2017;
  • provide reliable signal strength for voice for each type of mobile service (whether 2G/3G/4G) – currently many consumers frequently lose signal or cannot get signal long enough to make a call; and
  • make the deal legally binding by accepting amended licence conditions to reflect the agreement – it will be enforceable by Ofcom.

No cash payments will be made by Government to the mobile networks as part of this agreement.

This deal will also result in cutting total ‘not-spots’ where there is currently no mobile coverage by two-thirds. This will support the Government’s existing £150m programme to take mobile coverage to the areas of the UK that have no coverage at all.

As a result of the agreement, many areas will receive better data coverage, some for the first time. During the recent consultation process, consumers made it very clear that they feel any solution should include better data coverage.

Culture Secretary Sajid Javid said:

“I am pleased to have secured a legally binding deal with the four mobile networks. Too many parts of the UK regularly suffer from poor mobile coverage leaving them unable to make calls or send texts.

“Government and businesses have been clear about the importance of mobile connectivity, and improved coverage, so this legally binding agreement will give the UK the world-class mobile phone coverage it needs and deserves. The £5bn investment from the mobile networks in the UK’s infrastructure will help drive this Government’s long-term economic plan.”

Whilst discussions with the mobile operators on a voluntary solution continued, the Government consulted on various legislative options in November 2014 to ensure that the issue of poor mobile coverage was addressed. This voluntary binding agreement secures a better deal for consumers and businesses as it:

  • will halve partial not-spots and reduce complete not-spots by almost two-thirds;
  • guarantees £5bn investment by mobile networks in the UK’s mobile infrastructure – potentially creating jobs and a boost for the UK economy; and
  • provides some of the best coverage of any major European country – underpinning the Government’s long-term economic plan.

As part of the agreement, the Government:

  • will bring this agreement to the attention of Ofcom in the context of their work to revise Annual Licence Fees – this is the subscription fee mobile networks pay Government;
  • intends to reform the out-dated and ineffective Electronic Communications Code to make it easier for the whole communications sector to rollout out new mobile and broadband services, and increase choice for consumers; and
  • is allowing many of the Government’s freehold buildings to be used as sites for mobile infrastructure – potentially opening up hundreds of sites to boost mobile coverage, including areas where is has been previously difficult to rollout network coverage.

EE CEO Olaf Swantee said:

“EE is focused on bringing the best voice and data service to its customers across the UK, and only last week announced 1,500 unconnected villages will soon benefit from EE coverage. This agreement ensures that our customers are able to stay connected in even more places up and down the country.”

Derek McManus, Chief Operating Officer of O2, said:

“A partnership between government and the mobile operators is required to maximise coverage across the UK, so this agreement is a good outcome for our customers. It will support investment in our network, while ensuring that strong competition remains between the different networks.”

Dave Dyson, Chief Executive of Three, said:

“We’ve doubled the size of our network in the past five years and we continue to invest to maintain a great network experience for our customers. Today’s agreement reflects the strength of our network today, our plans for the future and our commitment to bring its benefits to more people and more places than ever before.”

A Vodafone UK spokesperson said:

“We support the Government’s objective of delivering better coverage to rural areas including partial not spots. This is why Vodafone is already spending £1 billion on our network and services in the UK this year alone and will continue to spend a similar amount next year as well.

“The voluntary industry commitment we have agreed with the Government today will deliver 90 per cent of the UK’s land mass with voice services and a major improvement in mobile internet coverage as well. It is a great result for UK consumers and businesses and it will make the UK a leader across Europe in terms of the reach of mobile coverage.”

Mobile networks will now take forward their plans to improve mobile coverage and Ofcom will monitor progress regularly. The Secretary of State expects the operators to meet an interim goal in 2016, and will be receiving updates on this.

Smartphone technolgy used to bank cheques

New proposals to make cheque depositing easier and quicker to be unveiled

New proposals mean that in the future you may be able to use your smartphone to send a picture of cheque to your bank to pay it in.

 

From next year you may not have to queue up in a bank branch to pay-in the cheque you get for Christmas.

You might not even have to wait for the bank to open.

Instead you’ll be able to use your smartphone to send a picture of the cheque to your bank, and new technology could mean that your cheque is processed in 2 days in future rather than the 6 days it currently takes. You would also still be able to go into a branch to pay cheques in – banks will have the same technology.

Cheques are a crucial part of the British payments landscape – nearly £840 billion of cheques were processed last year – accounting for 10 per cent of all payments made by individuals. 23 million cheques were sent as gifts because they are still the most trusted method of sending money through the post.

And because they are so important it is vital that the government takes steps to secure their long term future.

Sajid Javid
Treasury minister Sajid Javid is shown a new instant cheque processing demo by head of Barclays mobile application development, Peter Cox.

 

So in 2014, the government will consult on introducing legislation to speed up cheque payments and make it easier for businesses and consumers to use this important payment method in the 21st century. Consumers could see a real difference. No longer will customers have to wait 6 days before knowing that the money is theirs to spend.

These changes will boost the status of the cheque, reinforcing its relevance and trustworthiness in 21st century Britain.

These changes are not just about making it easier to cash gifts from family and friends. They are also designed to help businesses – who accounted for over 370 million cheque transactions in 2012. 25 per cent of payments made by small businesses were by cheque in 2012.

One option is to bring forward legislation to speed up cheque processing, enabling banks to process images rather than paper as they do today. This technology is already widely used in the United States. Consumers may also be able to take a picture of their cheque on their smartphone and send it to their bank with Barclays planning to introduce mobile cheque deposit next year.

Customers without smartphones will be able to use similar technology at cashpoints or branches or continue to pay in paper as they do now.

‘Cheque imaging’ does not require a hard copy of the cheque to be present at every stage of the paying-in process. That means that time spent transferring it between different banks and central clearing depots is saved as well as reducing the overall costs.

Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Sajid Javid, said:

The government is determined to create a banking sector that works for consumers and serves businesses.

We want to see more innovation so that customers see the benefits of new technologies. That is why we’re creating a new payments regulator and why we are going to consult on speeding up the cheque clearing process.

We want to take the very best of the current system and make it better. We want to cheques to have a crucial role in the ongoing success of the UK.

Cheque app
Cheque processing apps will allow people to submit scans from their smartphones.

 

John Allan, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses said:

Many of our members, and their customers, still rely on cheques so will be pleased with the investment and innovation to ensure their continued use. Speeding up cheque payments into business accounts is to be welcomed as many find the current process frustratingly slow.

Using smartphones is an interesting idea which should allow firms in areas, particularly where bank branches are closing, to be able to accept cheques as a method of payment.

Adrian Kamellard, Payments Council chief executive comments:

Whether it’s cheques, cards, electronic payments or cash the Payments Council believes that any innovation in the way we pay should be led by customer demand.

UK customers already enjoy contactless technology on their cards; internet and phone payments at the touch of a button; and next year thanks to a Payments Council project it will be possible to transfer money safely from a mobile phone using only a mobile phone number.

It’s clear customers want as much choice as possible and given that customers have made it clear that they want cheques to stay it’s entirely right that the government consults to understand the public’s view on speeding up the clearing of cheques.

Graham Fisher, chief executive, Toynbee Hall added:

Financial Inclusion is about meeting the needs of all the population, from those who prefer more traditional services, to people who embrace technological advancements.

We welcome HM Treasury’s announcement today that they are consulting on increasing the means by how people can access money through turning cheques into cash. Having financial inclusive systems for the whole population is vital and this is an important step towards it.

We look forward to seeing Treasury carry on providing existing methods, such as paying cheques in at a local branch or via the post, alongside cheque imaging.

Angela Thomas, managing director of the Cheque and Credit Clearing Company comments:

As customers have made it clear that they want cheques to stay, Cheque and Credit Clearing Company has been looking at ways of keeping cheque processing systems as efficient as possible.

As part of this vital work we have looked at what would need to be done if the entire industry wanted to offer cheque imaging alongside chequebooks: a move which would also speed up how long it takes for a cheque to clear.

As a very first step changes need to be made to cheque legislation and to these ends we have been working with government, consumers and businesses. Today’s announcement represents a welcome and significant step forward to help us further prepare the ground.

Steven Roberts, managing director at Barclays added:

We’re excited to be the first bank to pilot this new technology and always welcome legislation which enables the whole industry to work together to make customers lives easier. These changes mean you will be able to pay cheques in instantly, not just in branch, but also using your smartphone or tablet computer.

When you can download a book or a film in seconds, we believe you should be able to deposit a cheque in the same way.

This is just the beginning of how we want to transform the ‘cheque clearing cycle’ for our customers driving down the six days it currently takes a cheque to clear. We are planning to test the cheque imaging technology early in the New Year with a range of customers.

Alan Smith, head of payments and banking services at the Post Office said:

Post Office welcomes today’s announcement from government on next year’s consultation for cheque imaging.

This announcement is great news for our customers and will bring about a move for much needed improvements for clearing and processing cheques, including the move from paper to cheque imaging.

Source: Gov.UK