Access options

Access options

If you wish to offer your customers payment services, you will need access to the payment systems overseen by the payment schemes; depending on the scheme, there are two principal routes to gain access:  Direct Access and Indirect Access.

  • Direct Access: an organisation is considered to have Direct Access to a payment system if they are able to provide payment services as a result of having an arrangement with the payment system operator (the payment scheme). This arrangement is achieved by joining a payment scheme as a member.
  • Indirect Access: an organisation is considered to have Indirect Access to a payment system if they have a contractual arrangement with an organisation that already has Direct Access to that payment system. This access method is also commonly known as Sponsored Access and provides an alternative to scheme membership.

Some of the payment schemes offer alternative access options depending on your needs. Information on these can be found on the payment scheme websites and by discussing your needs direct with a scheme representative (see payment scheme website for details.


What is the best access option to meet my customers’ needs?
The access option best suited to your business will depend upon a number of factors, including:

  • your customer proposition
  • the products you wish to offer to your customers
  • the type and volume of payments you need to make
  • how you prefer to connect to the payment systems infrastructure
  • whether you want to take on the obligations and responsibilities of scheme membership
  • whether your organisation can meet the access criteria required for payment scheme membership.
  • Please refer to the getting started checklist for more information on the factors to consider when deciding on the most appropriate access options suited to your business.


In addition you may also wish to download a free copy of ‘An Introduction to the UK’s Interbank Payment schemes1. This useful up-to-date guide provides an overview of each payment scheme, explaining  what each one offers, and access arrangements for payments service providers (PSPs). It aims to help PSPs that are considering joining a scheme, or extending the payments services they offer to customers. 

Page 20 will give you an indication of the common access criteria for each payment scheme or Payment System Operator, (“PSO”) which will help you understand what membership entails.


1produced and published collaboratively by the UK Payment Systems Operators: Bacs Payment Schemes Limited (Bacs), CHAPS, Cheque and Credit Clearing Company, Faster Payments and LINK. 


The information on this website is not intended to influence your decision, but to support your understanding of the considerations and activities involved in making that decision.