Faster Payments plans to widen UK scheme

The UK’s Faster Payments Scheme has proposed changes to its infrastructure to enable more businesses to connect to its network

The UK Faster Payments scheme has proposed changes so more businesses can connect to its network.

The company wants to make access its services easier for payment providers hoping to offer real-time or instant payments.

Faster Payments plans to work with the Bank of England to open the service to non-bank payment providers. Account aggregation will be used to make it cheaper for smaller players to use.

Faster Payments claims the new infrastructure is designed to benefit non-bank payment providers and challengers of established industry players.

“The proliferation of new payment propositions such as Paym and other digital and mobile payment services will increasingly require a ubiquitous real-time experience for customers, irrespective of the manner in which access to the Faster Payments infrastructure is provided,” said Nick Caplan, the independent chairman of Faster Payments.

Increasing the competitive advantage of smaller firms in this way may force banks and other established payment providers to change the way they provide services.

The Faster Payments member scheme was launched in 2008 and was developed to clear payments in 24 hours – as opposed to the three days it took the bankers' automated clearing services (BACs).

Since its launch, the system has grown 20% annually, and processes almost 100 million payments per month. The service just processed its four billionth payment.

Several banks and building societies are already members of the service, and more than 300 who non-members are able to gain access to the service through relationships with members.

But smartphones, mobile banking and alternative payments have changed consumer expectation, and the importance of accessible banking and real-time payments is growing.

"We live in an increasingly digital world where ‘now’ rather than ‘soon’ is the new norm," said Caplan.

There has been a big increase in the number of consumers using smartphones for transactions, and Forrester Research predicts 214 million people in Europe will use mobile devices to do their banking by 2018.

Services such as Apple Pay will increase this number and research firms predict existing services such as this will promote the adoption of NFC technologies for payments.

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