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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, i.e. becoming a direct participant.

Becoming a direct participant is subject to certain criteria, which serves to protect the stability, security and resilience of the respective payment systems. This also ensures new participants are able to comply with the relevant rules, and meet the responsibilities and obligations associated with participation.

There is also a technical aspect to becoming a direct participant – as connections need to be made from an organisation’s IT infrastructure to the payment system, in order to enable transactions to be processed.

If you think the direct access route is the right choice for your business or organisation, then a good place to start is our handy checklist which provides more information on the considerations to take into account.

You should also contact the relevant payment system operator, which will support you through the process. The Pay.UK access team can be contacted at

Access criteria

A payment system’s access criteria may also require organisations to hold the appropriate operational licences, such as a banking licence. Each payment system may have different access criteria, and specific requirements are available from the relevant payment system operator(s).

Information on the licences and regulations that apply to those who offer banking and payment services, and the process to obtain the relevant licence(s), can be found on the Financial Conduct Authority and Prudential Regulation Authority websites.

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