Functionality of the new RTGS service

In May 2017 we published a blueprint that set out our vision for the renewed RTGS service. This page sets out the current planned functionality of the new RTGS service that will deliver that vision.

Scope of services

The diagram below shows the overview of the scope of services for the renewed RTGS service. User A initiates a payment to User B, the boxes show the different areas the Programme is seeking to change for the renewed service. Click on the icons above to find out more about a particular scope area. 

overview of the scope of services for the renewed RTGS service

1. HVPS risk management

1.1 End-to-end risk management

In November 2017 we became responsible for operating CHAPS, the UK’s high-value payment system alongside the Bank’s RTGS infrastructure. Until then CHAPS Co, a private sector entity owned by CHAPS direct participants (high-street, international and custody banks), was responsible for managing the system’s governance and rulebook. Bringing CHAPS into the Bank of England means we can make use of the full set of tools, information and other resources we have available to identify, mitigate, and respond to end-to-end risks to the CHAPS system as they emerge.

2. Service availability

2.1 Operating hours

We have no current plans to change the operating hours of RTGS, though that will be kept under review in light of user demand. The Bank would give at least one year’s notice of any future changes – and exact timings would be discussed with direct participants. We will not change the operating hours of RTGS before implementing a new ledger as part of the RTGS Renewal Programme, however the notice period could start in advance of that. The new service will have the technical capability to support 22 operating hours per day, 5 days a week plus short windows of operation available at the weekend for the net settlement of the retail systems. The design of the new service will not rule out a potential future extension to 24 operating hours per day, 7 days a week. We will continue to monitor industry demand for extensions to operating hours.

3. Operational resilience

3.1 Recovery and resilience

The renewed RTGS service will continue to operate across two locations and three settlement platforms. The Renewal Programme will deliver an automated contingency solution for critical payment submissions in the event of an outage of the primary messaging network.

3.2 Testing

We will introduce automated testing using both market leading test automation tools and a test simulator. Automation, wherever possible, will reduce the burden on users and increase efficiency. We will minimise the risks involved in making common changes such as adding new members. We will also aim to reduce compulsory weekend testing for CHAPS on-boarding and minimise any other weekend testing where possible.

3.3 CHAPS as a Retail Alternative

The RTGS Renewal Programme aims to promote resilience and efficiency through greater interoperability. As part of this, the Bank has been exploring the possibility of a contingency solution for critical retail payments to be settled in exceptional circumstances, CHAPS as Retail Alternative (CARA). CARA, if agreed for implementation, could deliver increased resilience by allowing participating Payment Service Providers (PSPs) to exchange and settle multiple retail payments intended for another PSP within a single CHAPS payment (and a supporting file containing details of the underlying retail payments). 

We have been working closely with industry and Pay.UK to assess the feasibility of CARA. A detailed summary of industry feedback to our latest consultation and the Bank’s planned next steps for this work can be found below.

4. Network

4.1 Message network agnostic design

The renewed RTGS service will continue to use SWIFT as the provider of messaging services. However, it will be designed to be capable of sending and receiving payment messages from multiple sources. We are continuing to develop our policy and transition approach to moving to a Message Network-Agnostic RTGS in the future.

5. Liquidity and reserves

5.1 Sterling monetary framework

RTGS provides the reserves accounts under which the Bank’s monetary policy is implemented. The new system will enable flexible and rapid implementation of any potential future changes to the Bank’s monetary policy.

5.2 Global liquidity management

The new RTGS service will enable the existing auto collateralisation functionality in CREST to generate liquidity for other RTGS accounts when needed. There will be enhanced tools for the real-time monitoring and management of intraday liquidity. And any future Bank reviews of our collateral policy will consider potential expansion of the range of securities eligible to generate intraday liquidity. This expansion will include a potential extension of the current euro cash liquidity bridge to other currencies.

6. Settlement

6.1 Liquidity Savings Mechanism

The functionality and user interface of the Liquidity Savings Mechanism will be enhanced. Improved real-time data and analysis will be available to help inform liquidity management decisions. An enhanced offsetting algorithm will enable greater liquidity efficiency.

6.2 Settlement models

The new system will include updated features like automated notifications, increased information exchange capacity and the option to forward schedule movements between accounts in RTGS. It will have the capacity to support a diverse range of settlement models, including systems operating on innovative payment technologies, such as those built on Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT).

6.3 Synchronisation

We are exploring demand for ‘synchronisation’ functionality - the ability to synchronise cash movements in RTGS with the movement of cash or assets in other systems. We are exploring functionality where a trusted third party "Synchronisation Operator" could earmark and order the transfer of funds between participating institutions’ accounts in RTGS once required conditions have been met. Potential use cases include housing transactions, corporate actions and cross-border payments.

  • What do we mean by synchronisation?

    At the heart of synchronisation is the concept of ‘atomic settlement’. This means that the transfer of two (or more) assets is linked in such a way as to ensure that the transfer of one asset occurs if and only if the transfer of the other asset (or group of assets) also occurs. So the outcome of synchronised settlement is either all parties successfully exchanging the assets, or no transfer taking place.

    Synchronisation could enable the settlement of a payment in sterling central bank money to be coordinated with the transfer of one or more other assets. The other asset(s) could either be:

    • another payment in sterling central bank money
    • funds on another payments ledger, such as an RTGS service in another currency
    • an asset recorded on an external asset ledger.

    Learn more about our vision for synchronised settlement in the UK in our background guide.

    Key updates

    In June 2019, we published a guide to the synchronisation functionality we propose and a summary of our engagement with industry so far about the case for synchronisation and our initial design.

    In 2018, we invited the industry to give us their views on synchronisation and held a workshop with members of the payments community.

6.4 Access

The renewed RTGS service will be built to accommodate a substantial increase in the number of account holders. This will influence the design of the new service – for example the process to join RTGS will be simpler, including streamlining the testing required for CHAPS joiners. 

6.5 Non-bank PSPs

Non-bank payment system providers (PSPs) are now eligible to access RTGS settlement accounts (subject to meeting appropriate standards of resilience). The first non-bank PSPs opened settlement accounts in RTGS in 2018. Intra-day liquidity is not available to non-banks PSP users of RTGS. Download the Bank’s policy on access to RTGS for non-bank PSPs.

Since January 2018 CHAPS members have the option to connect to the service through a technical aggregator. The aggregator provides connectivity services but does not hold an account at the Bank of England.

7. Reporting and monitoring

7.1 ISO 20022

We will adopt ISO 20022 messaging standards for High Value Payments System (HVPS) payments across the renewed RTGS service. Development of the message set for the UK HVPS will, as far as possible, be in line with the HVPS+ framework, UK retail payment schemes, and HVPS in other jurisdictions to ensure international harmonisation and domestic interoperability. The renewed RTGS will ensure ISO 20022 goes beyond the current message standard by introducing additional information fields and adding structure to existing fields. More information can be found on the ISO 20022 page.

7.2 Track and trace

The new RTGS service will support the SWIFT GPI (Global Payments Innovation) service, to allow track and trace of payments for CHAPS members. SWIFT GPI is able to support domestic and international payments. We will not be developing our own track and trace functionality.

7.3 Business Intelligence APIs

We will develop automated real-time tools for accessing RTGS transactional and liquidity data. There will also be some write access APIs, subject to the ability to secure it adequately. The Bank will continue to provide data via a user interface.

For more information, please refer to our Latest thinking on using Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to enhance how users interact with the renewed Real-Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) Service (pdf).

7.4 Transaction monitoring

The new service will be able to deliver data to users on all aspects of the payment messages ex-post and in a timely manner. This will allow users to enhance their own compliance monitoring. The data could be delivered to a potential future central utility tasked with monitoring. There will be no ex-ante transaction monitoring in the renewed RTGS.

This page was last updated 28 March 2023