The end of the LINK TSG

Just heard that the LINK TSG is no more.  

I was never sure why the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) allowed the UK’s shared ATM network to be sold to Mastercard.  To me, it looked very much like Mastercard was being allowed to gain significant advantage over its rival card schemes.  How can the CMA look at the relative situations of Visa and Mastercard in the transaction processing world and not conclude that there was a significant difference?  

It’s not like it was just the LINK ATM network.  They were given control over the account to account transfer services in the UK too: key financial infrastructure services that, in my opinion, should be managed centrally for the benefit of all.  

If it is correct that the LINK TSG is being wound up, then it is clear that the management and control of the shared network is being transferred from the members to the “owner”.  The implication is that the service provided to the members will then be that which the “owner” wants to deliver, rather than that requested by the members.  

If we follow the bunny of conspiracy down the rabbit hole of destiny, as our eyes become accustomed to the darkness, will we see a future where the LINK ATM network has been mothballed, and all LINK ATM transactions are processed through the Mastercard network?  

How can LINK commit to delivering ATM services in areas where ATM profitability is low, if LINK is not going to exist? 

Is the loss of the LINK TSG the first step in losing LINK ATMs?  

Bank Fraud is Taxing

Banking lobby UK Finance is proposing a universal tax on bank transfers to build a fund that could be used by banks to compensate victims of account transfer fraud.

One wonders what is driving such an approach.

If the victims were defrauded out of cash in their wallets – by scams of a similar nature – it would certainly not fall to the banks to provide a refund.  Handing over current account login details may not be the same as handing over a wallet-full of cash, but the interactions between fraudster and victim that lead up to the deed are.  It is the social engineering processes that precede the fraudulent activity that we should be focussing on, not the act of transfer itself.

Is this really a problem for the banks?

If this is not a direct banking problem, the problem lies in the gullibility and therefore the vulnerability of bank customers.  However, the problem is exacerbated by the speed at which bank balances can be expropriated and transferred.

The development of real-time banking services has fueled the development of fraud vectors focussed on social engineering mechanisms.  

A victims fund finaced by a payment tax is not the answer.  The answer must lie in modifications to the ecosystem to reduce the opportunities for fraud, but this has a cost.  

There are solutions but fraud prevention has never been a headline grabber.