Icon Solutions

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Icon Solutions's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Icon Solutions is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles


Commercial Director
The Icon team
Icon Solutions was born out of a passion to be different, fight
complexity, celebrate honesty and put customers first. Ben
Hallifax, Darren Capehorn and Tom Kelleher hadn’t seen these
values on display in many of the places they had worked and
wanted to make them the cornerstones of their own business.
They were convinced that with their combined experience in
technology and banking systems and their ability to deliver, they
could bring something new to the digital marketplace. Tom tells
Sitting in Starbucks for our first board meeting in 2009, we had a clear vision
of what we wanted to be, but I don’t think we imagined that in ten years’ time
we would have a seat at the ‘top table’ with some of the most established and
respected global fintech organisations.
Over the last decade, we have grown the business by 22 per cent year-on-year.
We have delivered payment solutions that utilise our ground-breaking payments
platform, IPF, together with advisory consultancy and enterprise services, to leading
global financial institutions, including BNP Paribas, Lloyds Banking Group, AXA
Bank Belgium, JP Morgan and HSBC. It’s one thing to get to the ‘top table’ but it’s
another thing stay there. This only makes us more determined to continue building
on our success.
Ten years on
Reflecting on the past ten years, I’m grateful and very proud of what we have
achieved, and it feels like we’re only just starting to get going. There are many
»Commercial Director:
»Director of Services:
»Operations Director:
»Established in 2009
»Based in Wimbledon
»Services: Payment and
enterprise solutions
»No. of employees: 135
»Icon Solutions operates a
policy of being 100-per-cent
carbon neutral
»The Icon Foundation is a non-
profit foundation supporting
over 20 smaller global charities
Icon Solutions
Highlighting best practice
challenges ahead, but the opportunity
to really make a difference is beginning
to materialise, and that’s exciting for
everyone here.
Our secret formula isn’t complicated,
or indeed even secret. We made a
conscious decision to build Icon on
a set of fundamental values that we
embody in everything we do and in
how we work with our clients. Fighting
complexity is one of them, and we
strive to always find the simplest
solution to a problem. Often, this
approach has been what’s set us apart
from our competitors. We never deliver
unachievable ivory-tower architecture
or an over-specified complex system.
Whether it be assessing payment
systems, producing IT transformation
roadmaps or simply providing subject
matter expertise, we deliver pragmatic
solutions that allow our clients to
be innovative and responsive to the
demands of the future.
These values of course are meaningless
without having the people to live
and breathe them. Whether they are
a solution architect or a payments
expert, we strive to hire the best
people. To deliver simplicity, capable
consultants are needed. Simple is never
easy when working in an inherently
complex environment like payments.
Our team brings a wealth of expertise
from industry, a desire to learn and
a passion for keeping pace with a
market that is constantly evolving.
We also have a youth investment
programme that exposes them to
Payments transformation –
when the stars align
Ten years ago, running payments
operations was seen as a tax on being
a bank. Today, all payment service
providers want to own the transaction
and the data, and there’s never been
a better time to be in the payments
technology sector. Banks are under
increasing pressure to transform
their payment systems. While
incremental changes have been made
over the years, there are very few
programmes that can be called truly
transformational. Change will increase
in 2019. Numerous market forces have
aligned the stars in such a way that
we’ve seen payment transformation
skyrocket up banks’ priority lists.
How the stars have aligned:
»Instant payments – instant payments
are reaching critical mass around
the world, and switching from batch
to real-time payment processing
requires an entirely new approach
»Open banking – open banking and
PSD2 is forcing banks to open up
and re-architect their systems to
provide access to third parties
»Platformication – big tech giants
from the east and west are winning
based on a technology platform
approach, and banks are adopting a
similar strategy to compete
»Data economy – transactions are
increasingly commodified, and the
real value in a transaction is the data
around it, which can be used to
deliver more and better services
»Increase in automation and
subscription economy – placing
People at our core
There is no
doubt that
payments are
an expectation,
not an
even more pressure on the cost of
processing low-value payments.
As a result, I feel banks are at a pivotal
point of inflection as these regulation,
competition and technology changes
put their traditional business models
under even more pressure. If they
want to stay relevant in the industry,
they must accelerate their payments
transformation in order to innovate,
drive new revenue streams and tackle
the market disruptors head-on.
The Icon difference
We started working with BNP Paribas
last year on a visionary transformation
programme for payments. BNP Paribas
wanted to differentiate themselves
as a bank when it came to payments,
but they knew they would have to
radically transform their payments
estate to achieve this. Faced with
challenging timescales, they committed
to delivering a transformation
strategy for their architecture and
technology, and at the heart of this sat
For a while, instant payment has been
referred to as the new norm. With 43
schemes already live across the globe
and another 15 in planning, there is
no doubt that instant payments are an
expectation, not an aspiration. Banks
need to offer real-time payments to
remain competitive, but the challenge
is that they are burdened with legacy
systems that are not equipped to
handle the demands of year-round
payment processing.
BNP Paribas’ payments transformation
was underpinned by IPF, our state-of-
the-art, cloud-native, flexible payments
platform. We haven’t stretched an
ageing architecture to do things it
wasn’t designed to, and we haven’t
moved existing functionality to a virtual
environment and called it payments
in the cloud. IPF delivers something
unique, embodying the first-hand
payments experience we have and
empowering our customers to
accelerate their transformation while
reducing TCO by between 60 and 75
per cent.
Using IPF enabled BNP Paribas to
successfully deliver instant payments
across four countries and three instant-
payment schemes. As a result of our
involvement, BNP Paribas are making
fundamental progress towards their
goal of significantly reducing the cost
of payment transaction processing
while positioning themselves for
success in an increasingly competitive
payments market and differentiating
themselves. Our payments expertise
and pragmatic approach gave the
bank the confidence they needed
for successful delivery and set the
roadmap for their continued evolution
in the world of payments.
I feel we are exactly where we want to
be – at the forefront of payments, at
a time when customer expectations of
value have changed. Moving money
is simply moving data, and customers
are no longer satisfied to pay for that.
They want value-added services and
new sophisticated technology – and if
they don’t get it, they’ll move provider.
We’re helping banks meet the needs
of their customers at a domestic and
global level.
As a result of
our involvement,
BNP Paribas are
towards their
Transforming the future


This article was sponsored by Icon Solutions. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Michael Gove.

Rt Hon Michael Gove's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Michael Gove

This year's Parliamentary Review comes at a momentous time for parliament, as we collectively determine the destiny of the United Kingdom. 

On October 31, the UK will leave the European Union. The successful implementation of this process is this government's number-one priority.

Three years after a historic referendum vote, we will deliver on the decisive mandate from the British people. Trust in our democracy depends on it. Until that final hour, we will work determinedly and diligently to negotiate a deal, one that abolishes the backstop and upholds the warm and close relationship we share with our friends, allies and neighbours in the EU. But in the event that the EU refuses to meet us at the table, we must be prepared to leave without a deal.

As the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, it is my job to lead on this government's approach, should that scenario happen. Preparing for Brexit is my department's driving mission. But while I am leading this turbocharged effort, the whole of government is committed to this endeavour.

Ministers across Whitehall are working together to ensure that every possibility is considered, every plan is scrutinised and every provision is made. A daily drumbeat of meetings means that we are holding departments accountable, so that preparations are completed on time.

The chancellor has confirmed that all necessary funding will be made available. And we have mobilised thecivil service, assigning 15,000 of our most talented civil servants to manage our exit from the EU.

We will make sure that on November 1, there is as little disruption to national life as possible. Our trade relationships will continue to thrive, thanks to agreements with countries around the world worth £70 billion. Our country will remain secure, thanks to nearly 1,000 new officers posted at our borders. And the 3.2 million EU nationals now living and working among us can remain confident, with absolute certainty, of their right to remain in the UK.

Above all, our goal is to be transparent. Soon, we will launch a public information campaign so that citizens, communities and businesses are ready and reassured about what will happen in the event of “no deal”.

In my first few weeks in this role, I have travelled to ports and tarmacs, borders and bridges, all across the UK –from the seaside of Dover to the rolling green hills of County Armagh. I have heard from business owners and border officials, farmers and hauliers. They are ready to put an end to uncertainty. And they are ready to embrace the opportunities ahead.

Our departure from the EU will be a once in a lifetime chance to chart a new course for the United Kingdom. Preparing for that new course will be a herculean effort. But this country has made astounding efforts before. We can do it again.
Rt Hon Michael Gove
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster