Direct Access (Payment Scheme Membership)

Direct Access (Payment Scheme Membership)


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 scheme. This arrangement is achieved by joining a payment scheme as a member.

Each payment scheme operates its own membership application process which serves to protect the stability, security and resilience of their respective payment system. This ensures new members are able to comply with payment scheme rules and meet the responsibilities and obligations associated with membership. There is also a technical aspect to membership, as connections need to be made from an organisation’s IT infrastructure to a payment scheme’s infrastructure to enable transactions to be processed.

If you think joining a payment scheme as a member is the right choice for your business or organisation, you can contact the scheme that offers the payment service you require and they will support you through the process of becoming a member.


Access criteria

A payment scheme's access criteria may also require organisations to hold the appropriate operational licences, such as a banking licence. Each payment scheme may have different access criteria; details of these can be found on the individual scheme websites.

Information on the licences and regulations that apply to those who offer banking and payment services and the process to obtain the relevant licence(s) can be found on the Financial Conduct Authority website and Prudential Regulation Authority website.

More information on access criteria can be found on page 20 of An Introduction to the UK’s Interbank Payment schemes’ - a guide produced specifically to help PSPs. 


Scheme websites

  • Bacs Payment Schemes Limited
    Bacs is the scheme responsible for the payment system that enables electronic transfer of funds directly to a specified bank account (Direct Credit) and the collection of pre-authorised debits on a payer’s bank account (Direct Debit).
  • The Belfast Bankers’ Clearing Company Limited (BBCCL)
    BBCCL is the scheme responsible for the oversight of the systems used for processing of cheques and other paper instruments in Northern Ireland.
  • CHAPS Clearing Company Limited
    CHAPS Co is the scheme responsible for the CHAPS payment system that enables real-time, high-value sterling payments where payments are settled over the Bank of England’s Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) system.
  • Cheque and Credit Clearing Company (C&CCC)
    C&CCC is the scheme responsible for managing the processing of cheques and other paper payment instruments in England, Scotland and Wales.
  • Faster Payments Scheme Limited
    Faster Payments enables electronic real-time payments via internet, telephone and mobile banking applications, as well as standing orders. 
  • LINK Scheme
    LINK is the scheme responsible for end-users’ access to cash (amongst other activities) via the UK’s ATM network.