Crown Commercial Service aims to make it easier for departments to take credit and debit card payments
Online payments firm Stripe – which handles payments for Kickstarter – among those chosen in revamped approach to government merchant services
Government departments now have access to a one-stop shop for buying in credit and debit card processing services, under a new deal negotiated by the Crown Commercial Service.
The CCS was set up in the last parliament as part of efforts to centralise the procurement of common goods and services. The move was designed to drive down costs and avoid duplication across government.
CCS's latest central framework gives public bodies including Whitehall departments, local authorities, NHS Trusts and police forces, access to both the equipment needed to accept payments by debit and credit card – such as chip and pin devices – and the end-to-end service of getting the funds into the organisation's chosen bank account.
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The framework is broken up into three lots, run by Barclays, Global Payments UK, Worldpay and Stripe. While those first three companies are long-established financial services firms, Stripe – which will specifically handle online services – was only established in 2010.
The US company – recently valued at $5bn dollars – made headlines last year when it took over the processing of payments for crowdfunding service Kickstarter from Amazon Payment Services.
CCS promised that the new framework, which replaces two previous contracts, would offer departments an "uninterrupted service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days of the year", and "substantially" cut the cost and time involved in procuring payment services.
The Cabinet Office team will manage the agreement on behalf of government and carry out contract reviews, with CCS also emphasising the flexibility of the new arrangement.
Suppliers would, it promised, be required to keep to government informed of "new payment innovations and methods that arise" and make these available if needed.
The Cabinet Office meanwhile said the new deal "complements and supports" the Government Digital Service's GOV.UK Pay digital payments platform, which aims to give a single system which can be used by all departments to allow citizens to make online payments.
The latest framework comes after CCS's recently-appointed executive director Matt Denham promised that a new Crown Office Supplies agreement would save government "in excess" of £20m this year by rolling all public sector stationery needs into a single deal.
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