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What is the difference between Bacs and Faster Payments?

For UK-based businesses looking to transfer money to another bank account, there are several options currently available. The payment method you choose largely depends on how quickly you need to transfer funds from your account to your recipient’s. In this article, Interbacs explains the difference between Bacs payments and Faster Payments.

Bacs payments timescales

Bacs is the network of banks and building societies that handle the thousands of Direct Debit and Direct Credit payments that are processed every day in the UK. Bacs replaced cheques and cash as the foremost method for businesses to make regular payments into the bank accounts of their regular payees. This is why it is the number one payment system for employers and governments to pay salaries and benefits respectively.

Bacs enables organisations to make a large number of payments simultaneously. The benefits of Bacs payments are that they are relatively cost-effective, costing mere pennies per transaction. They're also extremely reliable. Bacs has famously never misplaced a payment since its launch in 1968. It is also relatively easy to set up and manage, especially when using a Bacs Approved Bureau or Facilities Management Provider.

Bacs does have some drawbacks, however. Chief among them is the length of time it takes for funds to clear. It takes three working days for a Bacs payment to reach a recipient's bank account. So if a payment is made on a Monday, it will reach the payee’s account on Wednesday morning. Bacs payments are only credited Monday through to Friday and are usually paid into an account early in the morning at around 7 am.

Faster Payments timescales

As the name suggests, Faster Payments are an altogether speedier alternative to Bacs payments. Faster Payments were introduced by the banking industry in 2008 to provide a way for people to transfer money in real-time. The upshot is that Faster Payments often clear within a matter of minutes. Sometimes this process takes slightly longer but at worst the longest most Faster Payments take is two hours.

The main benefit of Faster Payments is those rapid transactions. This makes them a great tool if you need to pay a supplier out of hours or make amends for a payroll error. The Faster Payments system also operates around the clock, seven days a week – including weekends and bank holidays. However, corporate clients will still need to meet the cut-off times imposed by their bank or building society where necessary.

The convenience of sending Faster Payments does come at a price, though. Whereas Bacs payments cost pennies (ours start from 20-30 pence per transaction), Faster Payments can cost up to £2.50 per transaction with some of the bigger providers. Most, but not all, UK banks and building societies are set up to make and receive Faster Payments. It’s worth checking that your bank and your payee’s bank participate in the scheme.

Bacs or Faster Payments?

So should you use Bacs or Faster Payments? As ever, that really depends. For individuals, Faster Payments offer a fast, free and convenient way to make one-off payments. However, for corporate users, the associated charges can quickly add up when making regular, multiple transactions. Wherever you have the luxury of time and good organisation, Bacs offers a much more affordable – albeit slower – alternative.

Save time and money with reliable, professional, and innovative payment solutions and services from Interbacs. For more information about any of our products or services, please contact on 08444 127 180.