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Asset finance companies are among a range of businesses working with global software provider Sofico to prepare for new EU regulations coming into force next year.

The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) takes effect from May next year and will impact on almost every organisation based in the EU, as well as every organisation that does business in the EU even if based abroad.

Non-compliance poses a great operational risk for many businesses, as infringements are punishable by fines of up to €20m or 4% of the company’s total worldwide annual turnover, whichever is higher.

Sofico is working with automotive finance, leasing, fleet and mobility companies to prepare for the rule changes.

It has been explaining the new requirements to leasing companies, both captive and non-captive, along with other fleet clients to ensure they are fully compliant by the time the new rules become law.

The data protection reform is intended to be a key enabler for a Digital Single Market (DSM), a priority of the European Commission, to allow EU citizens and businesses to fully benefit from the new digital economy.

The rules uphold key principles regarding the lawful processing of personal data, such as transparency about which data is being stored and why, and limitations on what is stored and for how long.

At the same time, the new rules aim to better safeguard a number of rights for individuals, such as the ‘right to be forgotten’, while companies that process personal data must  demonstrate they are compliant with legislation, both to regulators and stakeholders.

The new regulation raises the bar for compliance, requiring greater openness and transparency. It also imposes tighter limits on the use of personal data and gives individuals more powerful rights against organisations.

Satisfying these requirements could prove to be a serious challenge for many organisations, Sofico believes.

It is reviewing the impact of the new requirements with fleet clients with a view to enhancing its mainstream Miles software platform where required and ensuring that all Sofico customers are compliant by the time the new rules become law.

Gémar Hompes, managing director of Sofico, said: “Bearing in mind the length of software release cycles from providers like ourselves, plus the update schedule of many internal IT departments, there's not actually a lot of time for leasing companies and captive finance providers to assure compliance before the deadline of next May.”

He added that while some of the actions that need to be taken are strictly the responsibility of leasing companies, software suppliers will also need to make changes to any software used to gather or process personal data, to enable their customers to comply with the new regulations.

He said: “Our customers are working with us to proactively review the impact that the new regulations will have on their set-up for Miles. And we already have a number of positive actions defined on our development roadmap which will be released as part of our regular product updates.

“This will allow our customers to comply with the new regulation by the time it takes effect next year.”

Sofico is a leading supplier of mission critical software solutions for automotive financing leasing and fleet companies and its software is used by a broad range of leasing companies all over the world.

The company has installed its systems in more than 20 countries worldwide, managing more than 1.5 million vehicles globally.