The Bank of England’s mission is to promote the good of the people of the UK, by maintaining monetary and financial stability. In doing so, we recognise the role that public infrastructure can play in allowing the private sector to create financial services that improve safety, choice and quality for consumers. Provided the right safeguards are put in place, public infrastructure can therefore deliver a more resilient, innovative and competitive payments system, and more efficient and inclusive payments for households and businesses.
With this in mind, the Bank has taken steps in recent years to ensure appropriate access to its infrastructure. Historically, only the largest banks had access to reserves accounts, where the Bank pays Bank Rate on overnight balances. Since 2006 access to these accounts has expanded to include all banks and building societies, and more recently PRA-authorised broker-dealers and Central Counterparties (CCPs). Before 2006 just 17 firms had access to accounts; today it stands at over 200.
In 2017, the Bank took that process a stage further when it announced that non-bank Payment Service Providers (PSPs) would be eligible to apply for intraday settlement accounts at the Bank, which similarly had previously only been available to a small number of systemically important firms. To date, six non-bank PSPs have opened settlement accounts, with more in the pipeline to join.
The process of reviewing our access criteria continues, and we are now drawing on the findings of the Future of Finance Report on the future of the UK’s financial system. The Bank’s response recognised that technology is changing the way we live and the financial system is responding to meet these demands more quickly than ever.
In line with our commitment to ensuring public infrastructure keeps pace with these developments the Bank is looking at how payment services could evolve in the short term and further into the future; and at the role of public infrastructure in supporting a dynamic, data-rich economy. A key part of that work is the Bank’s programme to deliver the next generation of our Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) service. Alongside this work, the Bank is also considering wider policy questions.