Payment systems

Payments are an integral part of everyday life in the UK. We all buy and sell goods and products online and offline, pay and receive salaries, pensions, and benefits, settle bills and invoices, give and receive gifts – and so much more.

In the UK there are a range of payment systems, which perform a vital role in ensuring that funds move securely, and efficiently, for the benefit of all those who use them.

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.

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, and you can find out more about them in this section.

But that’s not the whole story. In addition to these vital, Pay.UK operated systems, the UK’s rich payments landscape also includes:

  • CHAPS payment system: the UK’s real-time, high-value sterling payment system; payments are settled over the Bank of England’s Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) system. The Bank of England is also the operator of the CHAPS payment system. You can find out more on the Bank of England website
  • LINK: the scheme responsible for end-users’ access to cash (among other activities) via the UK’s largest ATM network. A fundamental part of the UK’s payments infrastructure, the total value of LINK cash withdrawals exceeded £78bn in 2021.

Details relating to global card schemes, including card issuance or merchant acquiring, is included on the UK Finance website.