Payments play a key role in the smooth functioning of the economy. The Bank of England acts as a settlement agent for banks and others who are members of several payment systems. This includes payments settled in real-time that relate to CHAPS and CREST. On an average day we settle around £500 billion worth of payments between banks, almost a third of the UK’s annual GDP. These transactions span, or back, almost every payment in the UK economy – from salaries to company invoices, from car purchases to coffee sales, from pensions to investment flows.
We also settle the net interbank transfers for several retail and card systems. In other words, we provide a safe, risk-free means for banks to transfer money to each other. This reduces the risk for everyone involved in these kinds of transactions, and promotes financial stability.
The Bank of England also supervises systemically important payment systems.
We provide wholesale banking services to the UK Government, over 100 overseas central banks and, where there are financial stability reasons to do so, certain other financial sector firms.
The services we offer include:
- sterling settlement accounts (similar to current accounts) and reserve accounts (similar to savings accounts) and payment services
- foreign currency accounts and payment services
- securities custody and settlement services.
We don’t compete with commercial banks, and we only offer banking services for financial stability reasons – as we are a central bank, there is less risk for our customers than there would be if they used a commercial bank. We don’t offer bank accounts or services to members of the public.
You can find out more about our banking services in the following article:
The Bank of England as a bank