CHAPS, one of the core parts of the UK's financial infrastructure, marks its 30th anniversary this Sunday (9 February 2014). CHAPS is the UK's high value same-day payment system which processes significantly larger values than any other UK payment system, processing over 92% of all intra-bank payments by value in the UK.
CHAPS came into operation on 9 February 1984 with a minimum payment level of £10,000. At the time, the average daily total value was around £5 billion from a volume of 7,000 payments per day. The minimum payment level was later reduced and then finally abolished in 1993. By 2013, CHAPS was processing payments with an average daily total value of £277 billion and volume of 138,000 payments. Whilst the vast majority of CHAPS payments are for high value payments between banks and large corporates, CHAPS is most commonly used by consumers when buying houses.
• In 2012/13 the average payment value via CHAPS was £2.1 million, but with 78% below £100,000.
• CHAPS' highest ever settlement figure in one day was for £446 billion on 28 September 2007, during the early part of the financial crisis.
• CHAPS is one of the key payment methods for the housing market, replacing the use of cheques over the past three decades.
• Many businesses rely on CHAPS for urgent supplier payments - one example is its use by insolvent companies who need to reassure suppliers.
• CHAPS serves 4,500 Indirect Participants - these are banks or other financial institutions (such as building societies) that process payments via Direct Participants.
• A key high value use of CHAPS transfers is the money markets, short-term lending between financial institutions, foreign exchange and derivative-related payments.
The anniversary comes as CHAPS sees the number of its Direct Participants expand worldwide. Five international banks have signed up to join the Scheme during 2014 and 2015.
Phil Kenworthy, Managing Director of CHAPS Clearing Company said the 30th anniversary was an appropriate time to acknowledge that CHAPS has become a key part of the British financial landscape:
"CHAPS has performed a fundamental role within the UK economy for the past ast three decades, processing hundreds of millions of high value payments safely and securely. This has underpinned and facilitated both domestic and international trade. In this time, not only has the number of Direct Participants increased, but so has the volume and value of payments being processed. We look forward to continually strengthening the service for the next 30 years and beyond."
Independent Chairman, Dr Herta von Stiegel said: "It is a wonderful moment to pause and think over what we have achieved. But it is also a moment to plan into a future where there will be important challenges ranging from the changing needs and demands of our end users to evolving regulation. We shall continue to play a strategic part in ensuring that London remains one of the world's leading financial centres. As a key player, we shall also continue to evaluate our own business model, making sure we anticipate and meet the needs of our current and future users."
The company also plans to introduce a new Affiliate Group that will allow Indirect Participants, industry bodies and software vendors to have a direct communication with CHAPS. Affiliates will be given the opportunity to understand and help shape both CHAPS' existing operations and its future strategy. The Affiliate Group will be launched in the second quarter of 2014.
CHAPS' payments are irrevocable and guaranteed as a result of them taking place across settlement accounts of its participants held at the Bank of England.