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Pay.UK processes record payment volumes and values in 2019




Payments made through the three retail payment systems managed by Pay.UK reached an all-time high in 2019, with businesses and individuals making 9.2 billion transactions with a combined value of £7.4 trillion. Pay.UK is the UK’s independent payment system operator, responsible for the Bacs Payments System (which processes Direct Credits and Direct Debits), the Faster Payments System (used for online banking payments and Standing Orders), and the Image Clearing System (which processes cheques).

In 2019 Pay.UK processed 2.4 billion Faster Payments, a 19 per cent increase on 2018, with a value of £1.9 trillion. This is an annual volume and value record for Faster Payments, the near real-time payments system that was launched in May 2008.

In addition, a record 4.5 billion Direct Debits were processed in 2019 by the Bacs Payments System, whilst the value of Direct Credits (used to pay salaries, pensions and benefits) rose from £3.6 trillion in 2018 to £3.7 trillion last year, its highest total ever.

The number of cheques processed by Pay.UK increased slightly year-on-year, totalling 257 million in 2019. This is due to cheques now being cleared as images rather than as pieces of paper, with the result that more cheques are now cleared centrally rather than within banking groups (1).

Matthew Hunt, COO of Pay.UK, commented:
“Payments are the lifeblood of the UK economy and it’s pleasing to see Pay.UK’s systems being used at levels that represent an all-time high. In supporting a vibrant UK economy, Pay.UK offers users a choice of how to pay, and as part of this it is vital that consumers and businesses alike  have complete faith in the systems they use.  It’s therefore extremely reassuring to see that confidence reflected in these record-breaking annual figures.”

To mark a record-breaking 2019 we have also produced an infographic​ highlighting some of the key stats from a momentous 12 months.

A table showing the volumes and values for the payments processed by Pay.UK’s systems in 2019 is available below.



Notes to editors
(1) Previously, with the paper clearing system, ‘on-us’ cheques involving the same bank were not typically processed by Pay.UK. With the Image Clearing System, all cheques are now being processed through the central system. (2019 saw the completion of the phased roll-out of the Image Clearing System – for part of the year the paper and image clearing systems operated in tandem.)

276 million cheques were written in 2019, down 20% from 346 million in 2018.

Table of payments data for 2019

SOURCE: Pay.UK analysis of payment data - 1 Jan to 31 Dec 2019

​Volumes​2018​2019+/- %
​Direct Debits​4.4 billions​4.5 billion+3%
​Direct Credits​2.1 billion​2.0 billion​-3%
​Faster Payments​2.0 billion​2.4 billion+19%
​Cheque Payments​0.25 billion​0.26 billion​+1%


​8.7 billion

9.2. billion



​values​2018​2019​+/- %
​​Direct Debits£​1.3 trillion​£​1.3 trillion​-
​Direct Credits​£3.6 trillion​£3.7 trillion​+3%
​Faster Payments​£1.7 trillion​£1.9 trillion​+14%
​​Cheque Payments£​326 billion
​£391 billion


£​7.0 trillion

​£7.4 trillion



* percentages/totals may not sum exactly due to rounding