What we do

We run the UK’s retail payments operations, which includes the Bacs Payment System, the Faster Payment System and the Image Clearing System. We also deliver a variety of services relating to payments, such as the Current Account Switch Service, Confirmation of Payee and Request to Pay.

Our purpose is to power payments, champion innovation and give the UK choice in how it pays. We enable individuals and organisations in the UK to transfer money to others whenever they need to, quickly, safely and cheaply.

Through our infrastructure and services, we enable billions of pounds of payments, safely and securely, every single day. It means that we have a critical role supporting the UK economy. Our technology, rules and standards, plus associated controls and policies, combine to give us a powerful payments platform. We continually build on this platform, reinforcing our position of leadership in the payments market and beyond.

At the same time, we are creating common standards for the industry and working to modernise the UK’s national payments infrastructure through the New Payments Architecture programme.

Our vision is to be the smartest way to move money, now and in the future.

Payment systems

Pay.UK operates the UK’s national retail payment systems; Bacs, including Direct Debit, Faster Payments, and the Image Clearing System, the digital way to pay and clear cheques. In 2020 alone, these systems processed a record 9.5 billion transactions.

These critical national infrastructure work silently in the background and, while the services they power touch the lives of millions of us each and every day, most of us don’t notice them.

Find out more about these payment systems, and how to access them, below.

Industry services

Pay.UK manages various services that benefit the UK payments industry, and set the foundation for a robust and resilient retail payments system.

These include the Biller Update Service, which provides participating organisations with a centrally managed facility to update and disseminate biller information, the Extended Industry Sort Code Directory, a downloadable database containing information about all payment service providers (PSP) that are connected to the UK clearing systems, and the SEPA IBAN-Only Directory which helps to reduce the instances of payment errors, by encouraging more SEPA payments to be made electronically.

You can find out more about these services below.

Switching services

In addition to our important role operating the UK’s national retail payment systems, we also manage a number of vital switching services on behalf of the industry.

These various services are all aimed at making life easier for consumers, businesses and charities, and include the UK’s flagship Current Account Switch Service, the Payment Transfer Service, Bulk Payment Redirection Service, and the Cash ISA Transfer Service.

You can find out more about all of these below.

Third party assurance

Another key pillar of our work is the third party assurance programme – that is, reviewing the effectiveness of third parties’ internal controls relating to the vital payment systems we operate, and ensuring that levels of operational integrity and quality are maintained.

Working closely with third parties, each year our knowledgeable and experienced teams work across the likes of the Bacs Approved Bureau Scheme (BABS) and Cheque Printer Accreditation Scheme (CPAS), plus much more.

More information about all of these programmes can be found below.

Managed services

As well as operating the UK’s national retail payment systems, we also manage a number of crucial services on behalf of the industry.

Our role at the heart of the UK’s payments landscape means that we are ideally positioned to oversee these services, which range from Paym, the UK’s free-to-use mobile payment service, to UTSP Limited, a Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) Trust Service which manages the digital certificates that are essential to keep customer information secure.

More information on these services is available below.

Overlay services

In our role as a payment system operator, Pay.UK is also overseeing the creation of rules and standards for new overlay services that will help realise increased benefits for end-users and, importantly, act as a catalyst for greater and wider innovation.

These services include Confirmation of Payee, which lets payers check who they are paying before they confirm the transaction, and Request to Pay, a messaging service that has been created to complement existing payments infrastructure and gives billers the ability to request payment for a bill rather than simply sending an invoice.

Find out more about these overlay services, and the benefits they are unlocking for end-users, 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.

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

Research and innovation

Pay.UK sits at the centre of a vibrant UK payments ecosystem that faces constantly-evolving challenges and opportunities impacting end-users and the wider industry.

Our research and innovation focuses on addressing these by working collaboratively with the ecosystem, building on shared knowledge so that we can all stay ahead of the trends that will impact the payments landscape in the short, medium and long term.

Find out more about our research and innovation work below.