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More improvements as new participants join payment systems

Published 27 06 2019
  • A record number of new direct participants – 12, up from seven in 2017 – joined Faster Payment Scheme (FPS), Bacs and CHAPS in 2018
  • The first non-bank payment service providers (PSPs) joined these systems
  • More indirect access providers (IAPs) in the market than ever before
  • Recent new entrants in the IAPs market (ClearBank, Starling Bank and BFC Bank) are actively offering services to, and onboarding, PSPs 
The Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) has published its fourth Access and Governance report which shows that access to payment systems in the UK continues to improve.
Greater access paves the way for new banks and payment companies to open and expand in the UK, bringing new products and greater choice to the way people pay.  For that reason, improving access will continue to be a priority for the PSR and the regulator will continue to closely monitor and promote developments that can improve it.
Direct access
The Bank of England’s extension of access to settlement accounts in its RTGS system to non-bank PSPs has significantly opened up direct access to more PSPs. As a result, in 2018, the industry saw five non-bank PSPs join payment systems directly.
In 2018, the industry also saw the emergence of settlement facilitators and the continued availability and expansion of aggregator models. This has enabled more PSPs to join direct, and that there are now more options when choosing a model for joining a payment system directly.
Indirect access
This year has seen emerging challenges in indirect access, such as some credit institutions altering their access criteria for payment account services. As a result, some PSPs are still finding it difficult to obtain the indirect access arrangements they want, or have been exited from existing arrangements and have had to find alternatives.  
However, the PSR has also seen three new entrants actively onboarding indirect PSPs, providing new indirect access options and reducing reliance on the main four indirect access providers.   
The regulator will continue to monitor access, including credit institutions’ treatment of access requests against the requirements of the Payment Services Regulations 2017, which came into force in January 2018. Should the PSR suspect that requests are not being treated in a proportionate, objective and non-discriminatory manner, it will consider the options available, including formal enforcement proceedings.
Chris Hemsley, Co-Managing Director of the PSR said:
"Our access programme continues to deliver strong and encouraging results. 2018 was another record year for participants joining payment systems directly.
"Without open access, PSPs - especially challenger banks - cannot compete fairly with established banks. Open access is a vital catalyst in driving competition and innovation in payment services – and that’s why it will remain an important part of the PSR’s work.”