Westpac to outsource cheque processing to Unisys

Westpac is poised to sign a $140 million outsourcing deal with Unisys Payment Systems, handing its cheque and voucher processing systems management to the e-business solutions outfit over the next seven years.

Unisys Australia spokesperson Alan Smith said the vendor will implement a new day-one cheque and bank voucher processing system at the bank over the remainder of the year.

The Unisys-architected system will be capable of processing up to a million pieces of paper overnight, Smith said.

The bank is outsourcing the cheque processing stream of its business processing systems in order to cut potential costs associated with maintaining old equipment, and utilise Unisys' IT expertise, according to Smith.

"The act of processing cheques, for most banks, is a back office function and holds no value to an organisation. For individual banks to provide that [manual] service requires significant investment, so Westpac is expecting to take cost savings out of the new system," he said.

Smith confirmed industry speculation this morning that 500 Westpac staffers would be affected by the new arrangement.

He said all 500 employees from around the country - mainly from systems administration, business processing and data entry - had been offered contractor positions with Unisys, the number of whom he said he was not certain had accepted the offer. He added that the transfers would start in the next few weeks.

The deal comes hot on the heels of Westpac's $4.3 billion, 10-year IT infrastructure and telecommunications services outsourcing contract with IBM GSA and Telstra, signed in October last year.

Westpac IT executives were not available for comment.

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