Payments fraud experienced by retail businesses remains persistent, despite declining for a third year in succession, according to the 2013 AFP Payments Fraud and Control Survey, says Lionel Slowe, head of the SADC project at BankservAfrica.
The survey states that 61% of organisations experienced attempted or actual payments fraud in 2012 – down from 66 % in 2011.

Though the survey shows some positive results, the level of fraudulent activities remains high and it is even more important than ever that payments industry players comply with the PCI Security Standards Council (PCI SSC) to ensure the security of cardholder data is not compromised.

PCI security standards are technical and operational requirements set by the PCI SSC to protect cardholder data. The standards apply to all organisations that store, process or transmit cardholder data.

BankservAfrica is one of a few organisations to comply with PCI security standards and is able to provide secure environments for payments projects it participates in, including the SADC Payments Integration Project.

Last year the Committee of Central Bank Governors (CCBG) commissioned the SADC Payments Integration Project, which is aimed at creating an integrated payment system that will enable regional interoperability of financial transactions across all levels and types of users.

As part of its contribution to the SADC Payments Integration Project, BankservAfrica is aiming to create a regional automated clearing house (ACH) to process card and EFT-based transactions, in accordance with agreed system standards and timelines.

A key feature of the system is the introduction of a single currency settlement for all cross- border transactions, through a single settlement authority (SIRESS). This feature serves to standardise and simplify the way in which banks in different countries are able to handle financial transactions, leading to increased efficiencies and reduced transactional costs.

The BankservAfrica ACH encourages SADC banking interoperability of financial transactions across all users and the integrated payment system will do exactly that.

A critical component of this SADC Payments Integration Project is the operators who will perform the interbank transaction switching and calculation of settlement obligations between banks.

This operator group comprises various service providers, offering a wide variety of services such as card-based processing, direct credit and direct debit processes, mobile transacting and cheque processing to financial and other corporate institutions.