The UK banking industry has taken a cautious approach to a new payment scheme, which will see online money transfers arrive within a day, instead of three.
UK payments association Apacs has announced a phased roll-out for the new faster payment scheme. Only 5-percent of Internet and phone payments will be processed as faster payments when the scheme is launched on 27 May - almost six months later than originally scheduled.
What's more, the 13 founding banks involved will implement the system according to their own timetables.
The Faster Payments scheme was agreed three years ago from an agreement between the banking industry and the Office of Fair Trading, and was slated to launch in November 2007, but was delayed for further testing.
The infrastructure for the multi-million pound system is being developed by financial services company VocaLink and backed by 13 clearing bank members. The 13 banks under the scheme are: Abbey, Alliance & Leicester, Barclays, Citi, Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banks, Co-operative Bank, HBOS, HSBC, Lloyds TSB, Nationwide Building Society, Northern Bank, Northern Rock and Royal Bank of Scotland Group (including NatWest and Ulster Bank).
In a statement Apacs said: "The development of this brand new payments infrastructure has been on an unprecedented scale. It has been a massively complex project for all involved and it is estimated that the cost across the sector could reach several hundred million pounds."
"The UK banking industry has pulled together to deliver this new payment infrastructure to a demanding timescale. The challenge of achieving this cannot be underestimated. As with any payment system there is no room for error as it will be an integral part of the UK's economic infrastructure," said Apacs chief executive Paul Smee.
Business customers are likely to benefit later than personal banking customers as the banks want to ensure the system is secure and reliable.
Standing orders are not scheduled to start being processed through the faster payments service until 6 June, but Apacs expects only a half of all transfers to be cleared within a day by the end of August.
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