Introduction to payment systems and schemes

Introduction to payment systems and schemes


Whenever money moves between individuals, businesses or government – whether paying for goods or services, receiving income or paying taxes – the UK’s payment systems are used to make the transfer of funds. Organisations that want to provide their customers with the facilities to move money, such as banks and building societies, must be able to access the UK payment systems to enable their customers to send and receive funds.

Who is this website for?

This website has been developed to support organisations that need to use UK payment systems to provide payment services for their customers. This website brings together a variety of information about UK payment systems and how to access them.

The information should be particularly helpful to a new entrant to banking that needs to provide one or more payment services as part of its customer product offering. It may also be useful to existing Payment Service Providers (PSPs) who want to enhance the services they offer.

On this site you will find: 

  •  information about UK payment systems and who operates them
  • information about the UK payment schemes and links to their respective websites
  • details of the primary access options for UK payment systems
  •  details of how to get started and the key steps and activities you need to be aware of to access UK payment systems
  •  links to useful information that will support your business in accessing payment systems.

Other useful resources:

You may also wish to download a free copy of ‘An Introduction to the UK’s Interbank Payment schemes1. This useful guide provides an overview of each payment scheme, explaining  what they offer, and what their access arrangements are for Payment 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.

Sort Code Information:

A sort code is an integral part of the information used to route and settle payments made through the cheque and electronic payments systems in the UK. The UK sort code information website provides useful information on: 

  • Direct Participation in a UK Payment Scheme
  • Indirect Participation in a UK Payment Scheme
  • Sort Code for use outside of UK Payment Schemes

1An Introduction to the UK’s Interbank Payment schemes has been produced and published collaboratively by Bacs Payment Schemes Limited (Bacs), CHAPS, Cheque and Credit Clearing Company, Faster Payments and LINK.