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Last month, we successfully moved our Faster Payments Scheme (FPS) processing in-house. Here, we explain what that means and explore the reasons for making this change.

What is FPS?

Chances are, if you’ve ever made a payment from your UK bank account to another UK bank account, it’s been done via the Faster Payments Scheme. FPS is a network between UK banks that allows for real-time payments to be processed, which means transfers are usually completed within just a few seconds.

Starling Bank and FPS

In 2017, a few months before we launched in the app stores, Starling became the first digital-only bank to join FPS. Starling is what’s known as a ‘direct participant’ - which means that we connect directly into FPS, with no need for a third party sponsor.

To provide customers with faster payments, you need access to the network as well as access to a FPS gateway. The gateway is the technological interface that looks after all payments coming into and going out of the central FPS infrastructure. Each payment is sent as a coded message which details who the sender is, how much should be sent, who the receiver is and what kind of payment this is (instant, standing order, future dated etc). 

When the FPS central infrastructure receives these messages it validates that they are in the correct format and pushes the message onto the receiving bank. The FPS gateway is responsible for each bank connecting into the scheme.

When we launched Starling current accounts, we wanted to offer customers faster payments from day one. That meant using our membership to FPS in combination with a third-party faster payment gateway.

Fast forward three years and we now process many more faster payments than we did back in 2017. That’s why, earlier this year, we started to build our own FPS gateway. 

What’s changed?

In September, we successfully moved away from using the third-party gateway to our very own Starling gateway. We now have even more control over how payments are processed so we can keep providing a secure, fast service to our customers.

For our customers, there will be no change to how they make or receive faster payments in-app or online. All money sent and received via FPS should usually arrive in the recipient’s account within a few seconds. 

The same goes for our Banking Services clients. Businesses who aren’t direct members of FPS but need access to its payment system can do so through Starling Banking Services. Starling acts as a sponsor, enabling the client to provide faster payments to their customers. 

Until recently, Banking Services also relied on a third-party gateway. Now, everything is in-house. There will be no change in the speed of payments, just a change in the technology, designed and controlled by Team Starling.

What are the benefits of in-house Faster Payments?

Running FPS completely in-house means that we have total visibility and control of our payments technology. If we find a bug, we can identify and fix it more quickly. And we can improve the whole system and roll out these tweaks without disrupting any payments.

Fast, efficient payments - made from your mobile or web browser - are at the heart of what we do. Moving our technology in-house is a huge step for us, enabled by our brilliant team of engineers and project managers who made the transition as smooth as possible.

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