Standards enabling benefits

Standards are at the heart of what we do at Pay.UK.

They help maintain the robustness and resilience of the UK’s payments infrastructure, and ensure that more than £7 trillion flows through Bacs, Faster Payments, and cheques seamlessly every year.

So much so that many of us don’t give much thought as to the mechanics of how this all happens behind the scenes. Just as it should be.

In the short time it takes you to read this, thousands of payments will have been processed by our systems, and it is the underlying standards that help make this all possible.

They are central to our vision of driving and supporting a vibrant UK economy, and enabling greater flexibility, harmonisation, competition, and innovation.

This includes the development of new, effective and future-proofed services that deliver benefits and added-value for end users, such as the Confirmation of Payee and Request to Pay propositions.

The importance of standards, and the potential they possess to drive real change and innovation, is perhaps no more evident than in the work we are undertaking with the Bank of England (as operator of CHAPS), towards the goal of a common, data rich standard for interbank payments.

This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity, which will herald a common, uniform, data-rich environment for retail and high value payments.

More than that, developing this next generation of standards provides a unique opportunity that is going to change how Open Banking works, by opening up new avenues for innovation for Payment Initiation and Account Information service providers.

Key to our work in this area is the continued input and challenge from across the payments ecosystem. To reflect this, in 2020 we launched our “Next Generation Standard for UK Retail Payments” consultation, which set-out to gain feedback from different stakeholder groups on three specific areas:

  • Recommended direction that we are proposing on the adoption of ISO 20022 for the clearing and settlement capability to be enabled by the New Payments Architecture
  • Foundational technical details for the ISO 20022 message standard, including our technical design and ISO 20022 readiness approach
  • Future direction on concepts that require a degree of standardisation across the payments ecosystem (i.e. from the central clearing and settlement hub to end users).

We received a large number of responses from a range of financial institution participants, service providers, end user representatives and other interested parties, and published our conclusions and next steps in November 2020. The document is available below.

Thanks to this feedback, in 2021 we will look to further set-out our strategy around how we can continue to engage and grow our communities of interest, to ‘bring to life’ key opportunities that can only be realised by common standards.