What We Do

The UK's Leading Retail Payments Authority

We run the UK’s retail payments operations, which includes Bacs, Faster Payments and Cheques. We also deliver a variety of services relating to payments.

We are working to transform the way that payments are delivered in the UK and, in time, we will bring all of these products and services closer together. We are also building the rails on which UK payments move. Through our infrastructure and services, Pay.UK enables £19.2 billion in payments every single day and, at our core, that’s what we’re all about.

At the same time, we are creating common standards and new infrastructure, which will be the engine driving excellence and success throughout the industry. These ensure that every payment processed is done so safely and securely.

Introducing the New Payments Architecture

Pay.UK is delivering the New Payments Architecture (NPA), an enabler of the future vision of retail payments in the UK as set out in the Payments Strategy Forum NPA Blueprint, published in December 2017.

The NPA will drive accessibility, competition and innovation. It offers a huge opportunity to organisations who wish to participate within the payments space, enabling them to create payment products and services, which will fulfill market demands and benefit individuals, businesses and charities everywhere.

Find out more about the New Payments Architecture programme below.

Setting standards

Pay.UK is the authority that sets Rules and Standards in order to facilitate payments flowing freely. They enable participation in our services, and help maintain shared systems that are safe and secure.

The Pay.UK Standards Authority is responsible for specifically defining, setting and implementing the standards for the current retail interbank payment infrastructures and for the forthcoming New Payments Architecture (NPA). These include, but are not limited to, ISO 20022 financial transaction messages.

To drive a consistent approach to the development of new and the review of existing standards Pay.UK has created the Standards Framework, a new set of common processes for standards development.

Pay.UK will be publishing aspects of the Standards Framework during 2020 and will continue to refine and develop this approach.

More information on Pay.UK’s role in Standard setting and the Framework is available below.

Industry Information

The payment schemes and services operated by Pay.UK process more than £6.4 trillion of payments every year. Access to information about the UK’s payment system is vital for many organisations to be able to provide the payment services their customers need. The information below has been developed by Pay.UK’s Design and Delivery team, in co-operation with the UK’s major payment schemes, to act as a focal point for any organisation that needs more information about accessing and using our payment systems.

We also have a number of guidance and best practice documents available for the payments industry to assist the interpretation of and compliance with certain rules and legislation.

Services and Operations

We provide robust, resilient, and collaborative retail payments services that are secure, open and foster innovation. Below is a list of the services and operations we deliver every day to enable the UK economy.

The BAB Scheme undertakes regular inspections that assess the technical competence and operational integrity of BABs.

Bacs inspectors review the appropriateness of the bureaux to ensure they meet the standards set by the scheme​. All Bacs approved bureaux are listed on the Bacs Approved Bureaux Directory.

Over half of the organisations using the Bacs service make their Direct Debit and Bacs Direct Credit payment submissions through our approved bureaux rather than submitting directly to Bacs.

Learn more about the BAB Scheme here.

BTAS is an accreditation service provided by Bacs to assess the relevance and quality of training course content and materials relating to Bacs services.

The staff of financial institutions, Direct Debit service users and other Bacs users, benefit from being able to identify those training courses providing high standards of content and delivery, to meet their respective needs.

Learn more about BTAS here.

Only software solutions that have passed a number of rigorous testing and approval processes are enabled to connect to Bacstel-IP for Bacs Payments and / or Secure-IP for Faster Payments. All Bacstel-IP and Secure-IP software are approved before they reach the marketplace, reassuring users that the software has surpassed set quality standards.

Learn more about BASS here

BUS provides participating organisations with a centrally managed facility to update and disseminate biller information. It allows receiving organisations to update and maintain their own biller lists which they provide to customers via telephone and internet banking channels.

BUS ensures new requests submitted to the service are validated and then circulated to all receiving organisations, improving the accuracy and consistency of the biller information they provide.

BUS is designed to deliver a managed and consistent process for capturing, validating and disseminating biller information to banks and organisations that participate in the payment schemes.

Learn more about BUS here.

​BPRS offers an easy and cost-effective way to ensure payments continue to be received when a sort code and / or account number is changed. BPRS leverages the central redirection facility developed for the Current Account Switch Service.

There are a number of circumstances in which an organisation may find BPRS of value, including:
1. Where a business which is too large to take advantage of CASS moves from one banking provider to another.
2. In the event of an organisation merging with, or being taken over by, another organisation
resulting in a change of account details.
3. Bank or building society branch closures where payments continue to be made to a customer’s old branch account details.
4. Where PSPs move from one sponsoring bank to another, or set
up in their own right.

Learn more about BPRS here.

The Cash ISA Transfer Service automates the communication between an acquiring party and a ceding party for a Cash ISA transfer. It involves information exchanges (messages) between the acquiring party and the ceding party.

The service was developed in response to the changing regulatory landscape relating to the speed of the transfer of Cash ISAs, and has resulted in a standard process for providers to follow.

Learn more about Cash ISA Transfer Service here.

All cheques for use in the clearing process in Great Britain must be produced by accredited printers. This means there is much greater quality control in the paper, ink and the security features used in cheque production. CPAS has helped reduce some types of cheque fraud, namely ‘fraudulent alteration’ and ‘counterfeit’.

Learn more about CPAS here.

Bank Giro Credits (BGCs) are used by customers to pay cash or cheques into a bank account. They are commonly found in the form of tear-off strips at the bottom of utility, telephone and other regular bills. A Bank Giro Credit is basically a paper slip addressed to a bank branch instructing it to credit a specified sum of money to a named account at that branch. It bears the money mark logo next to the words ‘bank giro credit’.

A Bank Giro Credit is not a payment instrument, i.e. it cannot be used on its own to make a payment, and must be accompanied by cash and/or a cheque.

Learn more about Clearing Credit and Bank Giro Credits here.

CASS makes switching your current account between banks and building societies simple, reliable and stress-free. The service is free-to-use and available to individuals, small businesses, charities and trusts.

The full switch service, known as CASS, applies where the customer wants a hassle-free service that automatically transfers all payment arrangements to their new bank and closes their existing account.

The Partial Switch Service (PSS) provides selected features of the CASS, but does not involve the customer closing their existing account or automatically transferring all of their payment arrangements. The service is not limited in terms of time and is not covered by the Current Account Switch Service Guarantee. It also enables a switch between account product types other than current accounts (where possible and when both service providers agree).

Learn more about CASS here.

Bacs Direct Credit is a simple, secure and reliable way to make and receive payments by electronic transfer directly into a bank or building society account.

Over 150,000 organisations use Bacs Direct Credit and, whilst it is mainly known for wages and salary payments, it can also be used for a wide range of other applications such as pensions, employee expenses, insurance settlements, dividends and refunds.

Learn more about Bacs Direct Credit here.

Simply, a Direct Debit is an instruction from you to your bank or building society. It authorises the organisation you want to pay to collect varying amounts from your account – but only if you’ve been given advanced notice of the amounts and dates of collection.

Once you have agreed those, the money is deducted automatically. If the organisation you are paying wants to change an amount or date of collection, they have to tell you about it first.

In a nutshell, Direct Debit is the simplest and most convenient way for you to pay regular and occasional bills.​​​

Learn more about Direct Debit here.

Bacs Accredited Facilities Management Provider (FM) is a service whereby an organisation will take responsibility for the collection or administration of Direct Debits on behalf of another organisation, not necessarily being a service user in its own right (FM client). An FM acts as a service user for those businesses that do not have their own service user number (SUN) to collect or administer Direct Debits on their behalf. This enables businesses to access Direct Debit without requiring sponsorship into the Direct Debit Scheme by their bank.

Learn more about Direct Debit Facilities Management here.

EISCD is the new version of the Industry Sort Code Directory (ISCD) – a downloadable database containing information about all banks and building societies that are connected to the UK clearing systems. These include Bacs, Faster Payments, CHAPS Sterling and Cheque and Credit Clearing.

Learn more about the EICSD here.

The Faster Payments Scheme is a Financial Markets Infrastructure (FMI) providing UK bank, building society and non-bank payment service provider’s customers with real time, 24×7, account-to-account funds transfers. Over 400 financial institutions offer the FPS, making it available to the vast majority of current account holders in the UK.

FPS includes:

  • Direct Corporate Access (DCA) – Which enables file submission of payments using the same software as Bacstel-IP to enable business customers to send payments quickly and securely, 24 hours a day.
  • File Input Module (FIM) – Which enables file-based payments to be submitted direct to Central Infrastructure by Payment Service Providers (PSPs).
  • Forward Dated Payments (FDP) – Which enables mobile, internet, telephone and file-delivered payments for a current or future date.
  • Single Immediate Payments (SIP) – Enables mobile, internet and telephone payments to move quickly and securely, almost at the touch of a button, 24 hours a day.
  • Standing Order Payments (SOP) – Available Mon-Fri (excluding Bank Holidays), these are regular payments processed by PSPs on behalf of their customers; with the PSP submitting payments on the due date (or next business day) between 00:01 and 06:00 – so that beneficiary is credited early in the day.

Learn more about FPS here.

Cheque imaging is the process that enables images of cheques to be exchanged between banks and building societies, through the Image Clearing System, for clearing and payment across the UK, including Northern Ireland.

ICS allows a customer to either pay-in normally at their branch or send in an image of the cheque (via a mobile banking app) to their bank (if their bank offers that service). The bank then either creates its own cheque image or uses the customer’s, and sends the image via ICS to the paying bank, for security, administrative and sufficient balance checks, after which the paying bank sends the money to the payee bank. Typically, the ICS has enabled cheque processing to reduce from 6 days to be absolutely certain that the cheque won’t bounce to 23.59 the next weekday after paying in a cheque.

Paym helps you pay your friends and family back quickly and easily using a current banking app. It has been operational for over 4 years and lets you send money securely to anyone registered by their bank to receive via Paym using just their mobile number.

Learn more about Paym here.

In order to be able to access customer-sensitive data needed to use Faster Payments Service, participants need to have the use of a PKI Trust Service, which manages the digital certificates that are essential to keep customer information secure.

Learn more about the PKI Trust Service here.

SCVAS is a voluntary scheme which has arisen from industry initiatives to improve the distribution of Bank Reference Data – specifically the requirement to provide assurance that the sort code information within the UK payments industry is accurate and up to date.

The Scheme is aimed at those commercial providers that offer sort code validation products on a subscription basis and / or a ‘pay per use’ basis to assist organisations with the management of their electronic payment processing needs.

SCVAS enables providers to offer their customers sort code validation products that carry Pay.UK’s approval, providing the minimum “threshold criteria” have been met.

In return, providers of accredited products have industry approval of their products and are listed in the table of accredited products below. You will also find further information on availability, accessibility and additional functionality of these sort code validation products.

Learn more about SCVAS here.