On 13 July the Payments Strategy Forum (PSF), which comprises 22 experts from across the payments industry and other organisations, launched its draft strategy (‘the Strategy’). The Forum is supported by several working groups comprising 190 people, and ultimately by the Payments Community, which brings together 500 people who work, or have an interest, in payments.

When it launched, the PSF set itself three objectives, to deliver payments that are: versatile and responsive to user needs; secure and resilient; and efficient. To arrive at a strategy the Forum collated and ranked a series of sector ‘detriments’ that need fixing. The proposed Strategy is bold and considers steps that should be taken to tackle these detriments over the short, medium and longer term. For example, the PSF has taken the radical step of proposing that three of the main inter-bank payment systems, Bacs, FPS and Cheque and Cheque and Credit Clearing (C&CCC) should be consolidated, in terms of how they are organised, their rulebooks and entry criteria, as well as the infrastructure underpinning them. The PSF’s vision is for these systems to form a single, simplified payments platform. Proposals also include the adoption in the UK of the ISO20022 messaging standard and common governance for the APIs used in the system.

There are numerous other proposals aimed at simplifying access to payment systems, as well as to address problems associated with financial crime, data and security and to address end-user needs. For example the draft Strategy includes proposals: to introduce ‘Request to Pay’ (whereby payment requests are sent between payee and payer prior to the payment being made and including more data e.g. about the amount requested, the timeframe for responding and the preferred payment method); for assurance data (enabling payers to track the progress of payments they have made); and enhanced data (enabling payers to attach data to payments they have made to allow recipients to identify them).