The Office of Fair Trading will announce early next week that the UK's banks have agreed to speed up payments made by consumers over the Internet or by telephone and standing orders, according to a report by the FT.
At present there is a gap of three days between a customer's account being debited and the recipient being credited - despite modern technology that would allow the money to be transferred instantly.
According to a Sunday Times report last week, systems dealing with direct debits, standing orders and other electronic payments will be the first to be speeded up, with cheque clearing expected to follow.
Although the change is initially voluntary, banks will face the prospect of enforced reform through legislation if they do not cut delays.
Which? magazine estimates that banks make more than £30m a year in interest from the delays in electronic payments.