Faster Payments eases access for challengers with new settlement model

Faster Payments eases access for challengers with new settlement model

Attempts to open up direct access to the UK's Faster Payments system to Payments Service Providers and challenger banks are reaching fruition with the implementation of a new 'pre-funding' settlement model, removing the potential barrier to entry created by shared credit and settlement risks.

Faster Payments currently has 11 participants that connect directly to the service, while a further 400 PSPs link up indirectly through sponsor banks. Easing access to the system for new entrants is viewed as a key prerequisite for leveling the playing field between the big banks and smaller challengers and boosting competition in the UK banking market.

Under the new pre-funding model, all PSPs participating in Faster Payments leave a cash deposit sufficient to cover their net transactions in a segregated, interest-bearing account at the Bank of England. These deposits effectively cover the daylight overdrafts incurred by participants in the periods between settlement windows, reducing the risks of financial contagion by ensuring the failure of a single participant cannot have a knock-on effect to other participants’ balance sheets through unpaid liabilities.

The new system has removed the implicit obligation for smaller participants to underwrite a share of larger participants’ transactions that existed as part of the previous liquidity and loss sharing model.

Craig Tillotson, chief executive of Faster Payments, comments: “Access to Faster Payments is a vital part of any challenger bank’s proposition - our introduction of a simpler settlement system is another big step forward in maintaining a stable financial system and supporting greater competition in banking.”

He says that three challenger banks have already committed to take advantage of pre-funding and join the Faster Payments Scheme in 2016.

The introduction of the new settlement arrangements coincides with the creation of a 'New Access Model' for Faster Payments, whereby PSPs can choose from a range of more flexible models and providers for technical support. Tilitson says a number of PSPs are in advanced discussions to join through the New Access Model.

"The identity of each of these PSPs is subject to commercial confidentiality until their respective launch plans are finalised," he says.

Comments: (5)

Chetan Ghadge
Chetan Ghadge - Wipro - Pune 05 October, 2015, 14:14Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

"The new system has removed the implicit obligation for smaller participants to underwrite a share of larger participants’ transactions that existed as part of the previous liquidity and loss sharing model"

1) Don't know what the contractual obligations agencies (PSPs)had with settlement members but even with the new scheme the PSPs still have to maintain enough liquidity at BoE.

2) Why would settlement members incur loss on transactions so don't understand what loss sharing model is talked about here.

Overall it looks like a good intiative but the point I am trying to make is that the PSPs do have an option already as direct or indirect agencies . I am wondering why there was not much of adoption in last 7 yrs of FPS existence. 

 

 

 

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 05 October, 2015, 22:23Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Maybe I do not understand this. The big banks still need to fund estimated clearings on a daily basis, but the little guys do not. Something sound fishy here.

David Godfrey
David Godfrey - ACI Worldwide - Watford 06 October, 2015, 08:47Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

@Chetan

The new arrangements for pre-funding mean that in the (hopefully unlikely) event of a member bank failing, 100% of any liabilities they could have incurred would be covered by the funds they have deposited. Previously the scheme rules meant that any shortfall (as there was no pre-funding) was shared between all other scheme members, hence the term loss sharing.

I would disagree that there was not much adoption of Faster Payments in the last 7 years. The 10 member banks between probably represent 70% or more of UK current accounts. Transaction volumes are increasing significantly YoY. The major issue has been, until now, that for banks unable to invest in the infrastructure to be a direct member, the only real option has been use the indirect agency route which is far slower, and on a per-transaction basis, more expensive. The direct agency route in theory was an ideal compromise but again, historically, the cost of the infrastructure has been an issue for smaller players. I believe there is only one direct agency member of Faster Payments currently.

I am hopeful that when the new access model arrangements are finally published, smaller banks and other PSPs can take advantage of the direct agency route due to the lower cost of access via aggregator services.   

 

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 06 October, 2015, 11:04Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Will pre-funding eliminate the lead time required for settlement and hence enable a real time settlement of the payment transaction? Will it be on net / gross basis? How is this different from Ripple as that also works on pre-funding logic (as per my understanding)?

David Godfrey
David Godfrey - ACI Worldwide - Watford 06 October, 2015, 11:272 likes 2 likes

The settlement process is not really changing...there is still a deferred net settlement of transactions based on several settlement cycles per day. From the beneficiaries perspective, the funds are available immediately as always, however, now the beneficiary bank knows that although they might wait several hours (or days even at Christmas, Easter) for settlement, in the event of a default or failure by the sending bank, they will bare no loss. For payments with immediate finality and settlement, CHAPS is still the only route. I believe this is acceptable - do most low-value retail payments really need real-time settlement?

To me Ripple is a very different animal that seems currently best placed to play in the cross-border payment space to provide a compelling alternative to the current process of using SWIFT to transmit instructions.

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