Payments body Pay.UK has launched the technical specifications for a new WhatsApp-style messaging service that it believes has the potential to help public authorities collect payments. Global Government Forum understands that early discussions are underway between Pay.UK and HM Revenue & Customs.
Pay.UK says the ‘Request to Pay’ framework, which supports a secure messaging service that can “be laid on top” of existing payments infrastructure, could be used by both central government and local authorities. It is being promoted as a new and flexible way to settle payments between businesses, suppliers and the public, as well as government and the housing sector.
The system has heavyweight support from business partners: it was reported last week that Visa would continue its support for Pay.UK after carrying out successful Request to Pay trials. Designed to give users flexibility in paying bills, the service provides ways to communicate with those seeking payments, and allows users to pay all or some of the money requested.
Public sector staff have identified various potential benefits to Request to Pay. In interviews undertaken by market research firm Ipsos MORI, respondents suggested that the system could for example be used to amalgamate multiple payments across different government departments, “resulting in a much more streamlined and cost-effective process, benefitting both consumers and government bodies.”
Pay.UK says that more than 400 organisations, from start-ups to payment giants, took part in an ‘open sandbox’, launched in 2018, to help refine the framework through a live pilot exercise. The newly launched framework comprises the message standards, rules, and terms and conditions of request to pay services.
Paul Horlock, chief executive of Pay.UK – which was known as the New Payment System Operator (NPSO) until 2018 – described the framework as a “milestone on the way towards building a more flexible future for payment services, fit for the needs of people and businesses everywhere”. He added: “We’re looking forward to developers bringing Request to Pay propositions to market”.
Separately, it was reported earlier this week that the UK government’s Crown Commercial Service has appointed a London fintech firm, TrueLayer, to its Payment Acceptance Framework. This means that any government organisation can now use TrueLayer to accept payment using its payments-specific Application Programming Interfaces (API).