Scottish government developing payment platform

Written by Peter Walker

The Scottish Government is working on a new payments platform for the public sector.

In September 2018, a small team was set up to take a closer look at how payments are made and received, as part of a wider programme of public service reform.

So far, the team has been doing research to fully understand business processes and the needs of users, developing a business case to outline options for a future payments service.

The government is also building a proof of concept for the more complicated parts of the service, in collaboration with FinTech firm Scott Logic.

“Rather than setting out everything we think we need up front, building to a precise specification, and hoping that it works, we’re taking an agile approach,” explained Hugh Wallace, transformation lead within the Scottish Government.

“That means we’re starting small and designing a proof of concept, then we’ll show our work to users, and see what they do with it and what they say about it.”

He went on to explain that at government level, payments can get very complicated, with detailed accounting, reconciling and budget-aligning.

“Over many years, different teams and services that take payments have set up their own systems for handling those payments,” said Wallace.

“These different systems do what they were set up to do, but they weren’t necessarily designed with user needs first; they don’t share common standards; they’re not ready to handle the demands we think the future will bring; so we think we need to do something else and that’s what this new team was set up to work out.”

Wallace added that building a single payments platform will cut down on bureaucracy and repetition of work. “It will be quicker for us to set up new services, or retire old ones – when new payment technologies emerge, we’ll be able to securely add them to the platform once, for the benefit of everyone.”