“The Rail Thing”: The UK’s New Payments Architecture

Mark Nalder from building society Nationwide, Pay.UK’s Shane Warman, and Andrew Moseley at payments provider ACI Worldwide consider the opportunities presented by the biggest change to the UK’s A2A payments system in more than a decade

The UK is poised to introduce a New Payments Architecture (NPA) for its retail interbank payment systems, beginning with Faster Payments, the pioneering real-time rail that has powered account-to-account (A2A) transactions for the past 14 years.An increasingly important part of the country’s payments landscape, they’ve been encouraged by open banking and saw a rapid increase in adoption by consumers and businesses alike after the pandemic. So much so, that some predict 40 per cent of e-commerce payments alone will be made that way by the end of this year. With 40 direct participants, including banks and other payments services providers (PSPs), along with many others who access the scheme indirectly, Faster Payments handled in excess of 3.4 billion single immediate payments, forward-dated payments, standing orders as well as direct corporate access payments in 2021.

Growth in A2A payments is not unique to the UK; it’s a global trend, so much so that all the major card schemes have launched initiatives to facilitate them. The NPA, which will eventually also extend to Bacs – direct credits, widely used to pay salaries, benefits, dividends and suppliers, and direct debits, which automate the collection of regular payments, such as domestic bills – is therefore seen as a way to future-proof a critical part of the country’s clearing and settlement system.


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