What are industry standards?

Industry standards are at the heart of the payments infrastructure. Indeed the industry would cease to function effectively without them. They are the common language that help participants communicate and, in the payments industry, are deeply collaborative.

An industry standard is an agreed set of rules that must be adhered to by members or participants within an industry who want to interoperate. A recipe of technical and business documentation that when combined establish the necessary framework to make payments work, they are made up of detailed specifications that establish a common way of working - both technically and operationally. In the payments industry these standards range from financial messaging standards to identifier standards like IBAN, BIC or Currency Codes. 

But it’s not just those inside the industry that are vital in supporting these standards, stakeholders like corporates, third party payment service providers, HM Government and the Bank of England all play important roles.

Why do they matter? 

We rely on them every day for the efficient and resilient operation of the payments industry. As the payments infrastructure is a network, standards are vital to ensure the users of that network can interoperate and communicate in a common and understandable way. Interoperabilityis a vital feature of the payments industry that would be impossible without standards. When consumers make a payment they expect that it will be sent and received irrespective of the bank it which they use. Interoperability makes this, and more, possible. Industry standards establish agreed methods for participants and end users of payment services and payments infrastructure to interact in a safe, dependable and predictable manner. 

How does Payments UK shape payments industry standards?

Payments UK actively engages in the development of national and international standards for the payments industry. We co-ordinate the UK’s payment standards activities on behalf of our members, the wider payments industry and other stakeholders, ensuring standardisation is driven by a clear business need and represents the full range of views. Payments UK provides a centre of excellence on payments industry standards. 

The key principles of the Payments UK standardisation work are:

  • Wherever possible, to adopt international, European, or domestic standards, in that order, over proprietary standards.
  • The UK should seek to play an active role in developing new international/European standards relevant to the banking and payments industry, and where appropriate work with corporate representative bodies.
  • Standards should be designed to cover the complete end-to-end payment transaction chain, including customer initiation and notification/reconciliation, as well as identification and authentication.
  • Convergence between different standards organisations should be encouraged as part of a wider consolidation process.
  • Standard development must result in practical solutions that seek to minimise impact on the adopters, with due consideration given to legacy migration issues.

Contact Us

James Whittle - Director

Kathy Ryan – Standards Administrator