Access to payment systems

Access to the UK’s payment systems is vital for organisations providing the payment services their customers need.

Broadly speaking, there are two routes to gain access to payment systems, direct, and indirect. The difference between these is outlined below, and the decision as to which is the most appropriate option will depend on an organisation’s specific requirements:

  • Direct access: an organisation is considered to have direct access to a payment system if they are able to provide payment services as a result of having an arrangement with the payment system operator. This arrangement is achieved by joining a payment system as a participant
  • Indirect access: an organisation is considered to have indirect access to a payment system if they have a contractual arrangement with an organisation that already has direct access to that payment system. This access method is also commonly known as sponsored access, and provides an alternative to direct participation.

In some cases there may be alternative access options depending on your needs. Further access information for the payment systems operated by Pay.UK can be found in this section, while details covering CHAPS and LINK can be obtained on the respective websites.

More information, specifically for authorised payment and e-money institution payment service providers (‘non-bank PSPs’) that would like to access the UK’s interbank payment systems directly, can be found below in this dedicated information guide.

What is the best access option to meet my customers’ needs?

The access option best suited to your business will depend upon a number of factors, including:

  • Your customer proposition
  • The products you wish to offer to your customers
  • The type and volume of payments you need to make
  • How you prefer to connect to the payment systems infrastructure
  • Whether you want to take on the obligations and responsibilities of direct participation
  • Whether your organisation can meet the access criteria required for direct participation.

Refer to the getting started checklist for more information on the factors to consider when deciding on the most appropriate access options suited to your business.