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Why the World Class Payments Project is good news for the UK

It is not very often in our industry that we get the opportunity to say there is fantastic news for banks, however that is exactly what the new ‘World Class Payments’ project, instigated by the UK Payments Council and Payment Services Regulator (PSR) is.

The project has been launched to review the UK’s payment schemes, looking forward 10 years to 2025 and what the industry may require, and set out a vision on how to achieve a first-class, world class payments environment. The project has already identified there are too many access points, schemes and processes, and that customer’s needs are not at the heart of the environment currently in place.

The ultimate goal of the project is to simplify and improve the end-to-end experience, drive innovation and competition, standardise interfaces, all whilst having the ability to change the core processing schemes without affecting services. As a result, we can expect to see the following changes:

  • I’ve been predicting a reduction in the number of UK schemes for a while now, you only need to look at the UK Payments Council’s Payment Statistics from April 2015, which showed UK Faster Payments Service (UKFPS) payment volume is growing at 13% pa, with ACH (BACS) growing at 3%, RTGS (CHAPS) growing at 4% and cheques falling by 12% in the 12 months to April 2015, to see that having four schemes is not a viable long-term situation, with many of the banks questioning the costs associated with running multiple schemes.
  • Upgrading to ISO 20022 will be required to allow UK Faster Payments to participate in European, or even global, interoperable immediate payment schemes. Core systems will be insulated, or ‘wrapped’ by a transformation layer allowing them to be upgraded to ISO 20022, or retired. 
  • This transformation layer, also based on ISO 20022, will create a ‘competitive space’ in which Payment Services Providers (PSPs) can offer services through, accessing the core systems and bank’s data through standardised APIs.

So why is all this such good news for banks I hear you ask? Firstly we will end up with an environment with just one high value (RTGS) and one low value (UKFPS) scheme, with BACS transactions being routed through UKFPS. This will save bank’s resources, as they will have fewer schemes to maintain services through and integrate with, allowing chunks of existing maintenance budgets to be spent on other revenue generating projects. 

Moving away from batch processes like BACS, will also mean that banks will have an opportunity to retire old batch based processes and systems, again saving precious resources which can be used for innovation. Offering innovative solutions is a huge challenge facing banks today, the new environment will have this at its heart, laying out a path for banks to follow with overlay services, mobile offerings, market places and much more.

With the new environment migrating to ISO 20222, banks will have to migrate or translate their existing systems to this standard, laying the foundations for real-time payments, and ultimately being part of the global immediate payments market which will change the provision of financial services forever.

Finally, there is nothing like regulation to force change, it makes the business case for renovating so much easier and might just encourage the culture within many banks to come into the 21st century.

Amidst all the excitement let me not forget to acknowledge that yes, there will be a significant amount of time and resource that will need to be dedicated to fully capitalise and implement the fallout from this new project.

However all in all this is a very exciting time for the UK, the Payments Council  and the PSR’s plans will place the UK at the leading edge once again and could give banks a real competitive advantage over their European counterparts. The banks, if they seize the opportunity, have a chance to place themselves back at the centre, becoming the Amazon or iTunes of their customer’s financial services world. I would encourage banks to embrace this new world, and lay the foundations for a digital bank, operating in a true digital economy.

For more information on the project, please see here -



Comments: (2)

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 22 June, 2015, 11:14Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

While I agree that on paper pushing all Bacs traffic through FPS looks like an obvious step, I don't see scheduled items like Direct Debit moving this way, and certainly don't see an end to batch file processing - as this is how corporates are wired to pay throughout their systems and processes.

Barry Kislingbury
Barry Kislingbury - ACI Worldwide - London 22 June, 2015, 12:40Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Couple of observations Richard, peronally I think the love affair with Direct Debits is not as hot as made out to be, consumers like them for certain thinks such as regular fixed payments (rent), but not so much for variable payments.  If an alternative was available like e-invoicing then DDs would drop of over the next several years.  Also many banks find DD simiply causes lots of customer complaints causing bad customer experieince and cost.

As for batches, surley any bank that wants to survive in the digital age has to get rid of batches and batch processing systems. I agree corporates will keep batches for now, payroll, etc., but that is no reason for banks and indeed the schemes to keep antiquated batch systems, Faster Payments already via Direct Corporate Access (DCA) takes in corporate batches and processes them as individual faster payments.  It would not be hard to put same day or even scheduled payments through FP too.

Barry Kislingbury

Barry Kislingbury

Lead Solutions Consultant

ACI Worldwide

Member since

10 Sep 2003



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This post is from a series of posts in the group:

Payments strategies 2015-2020-2030

Payments systems visions, strategies, trends, pilots, forecasting, and planning for the short-, medium-, and far-term.

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