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Banks promise near real-time payments processing

Pressure from regulator gets results

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Britain’s leading financial institutions are on track to launch a faster payments processing system for internet and telephone banking in November.

The new central payments system will allow users to make payments in near real-time, with the end-to-end process completed within a couple of hours, rather than days. It will also enable standing order payments to be processed more quickly.

The multi-million pound development of the new system has arisen from an agreement between the banking industry and the Office of Fair Trading’s http://www.oft.gov.uk/default.htm payment systems working group.

The new system has 13 financial institutions signed up as founding members, with others able to join or access the system through agency arrangements with a founding member. Each member bank will decide when to introduce the service to corporate and personal customers.

Paul Smee, chief executive of the UK payments association APACS said: “Central testing of the new infrastructure has already started and although in its early stages, is going well. In saying that, meeting our November target is still enormously challenging because all 13 members have to link to the system and carry out further tests to ensure the new system will be safe, efficient and robust.”

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