By Daniel Hunter

UK citizens are being denied swift access to financial support and emergency payments because the Government has failed to grasp the opportunities now offered through emerging payments technologies from small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) says Frank Lambe, Founder and Executive Chairman of Payment Card Technologies and Advisory Board Member of EPX.

Lambe is proposing the development of a clearing house for approving and connecting government to appropriate qualified SME suppliers to support the adoption of new payments technologies by Government.

Presenting his ‘Provocation’ at the recent Procurement 2013 Conference, following an Opening Plenary from Rt Hon Francis Maude MP, Frank Lambe argued that innovation has been stifled and opportunities to cut costs have been missed because the Government has been too slow to respond to innovative payments solutions from SMEs.

He went on to point out that these same solutions have been embraced by major brands in the private sector who have recognised the competitive and cost advantages of working with SMEs to deliver IT solutions.

“We welcome the Government’s commitment to increase its spend with SMEs from 10% as it is now, to 25% by 2015. But it’s not just about what they spend, it’s what they will save by embracing the new payments technologies available from SMEs," Frank Lambe said.

"We believe the use of payments solutions such as prepaid cards can help central and local government cut costs, improve efficiency, enhance reporting and most importantly, better serve the UK citizen.”

During his Provocation, Frank Lambe stressed that the private sector is adopting emerging payments technologies to drive business efficiencies and improve performance. This includes the management of expenses, the distribution of regular and emergency payments to minority groups, and in the payment of refunds and claims.

Companies in the airline, retail, insurance, telecoms and travel industries are gaining significant benefits, such as greater financial inclusion for disadvantaged people, reduced costs, additional revenue generation, reduced fraud losses and increased management control of risk.

“You just need to look at suppliers to the likes of easyJet, Sainsbury’s, Sodexo, Aviva, O2 and Barclays. These major businesses are using small firms to supply their IT capabilities because they are flexible, innovative, agile, quick to adopt new ideas, relationship-focused and often less expensive," Frank Lambe continued.

“So why hasn’t the Government recognised these same advantages? The upshot is that the public is not receiving the products and services it deserves, costs remain high, and innovation is stifled. We need to banish this false notion that the allocation of business to SMEs is risky and that strong balance sheets are a pre-requisite to delivering secure solutions to practical problems.

"Let’s hope the Government’s recent commitment to procure ICT from the SME sector is backed up by real action. Certainly those of us working in the payments solutions sectors will do everything we can to support the adoption of these technologies and create much needed opportunities to cut costs and improve services to UK citizens.”

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