Synchronised settlement

Find out what we’ve been doing to explore the use of synchronisation for our Real-Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) payment system.

We’re exploring the potential of using synchronisation for our payment system. Synchronisation has many potential benefits including:

  • reduced costs and risks in settlement
  • greater speed and efficiency. 

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.

Our work on synchronisation so far

Hand holding light bulb

Early 2018: Initial engagement

Initial exploration of use cases and potential demand

Person with speech bubble

Late 2018: Call for interest

Open call for industry responses and follow up engagement

People around table

Early 2019: Workshops

Two workshops (general and housing) to explore themes further


2020: Further to development of proposals

Further detail on policy and design proposals, inviting further input

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.

This page was last updated 22 January 2020
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