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What is a Local Payment Route?

June 6, 2024June 13th, 2024No Comments

Local payment routes are specialised financial transaction systems designed to facilitate efficient and speedy transfers within specific geographic regions. One prime example of such a system is the UK’s Faster Payments Service. Besides the UK Faster Payments Service, several other local payment systems are prominent in various parts of the world. This article explores examples such as SEPA in Europe and ACH in the USA, among others.

UK Faster Payments: A Prime Example

The UK Faster Payments Service (FPS) is a local payment route that was introduced in 2008 to enable the near-instantaneous transfer of funds between bank accounts within the United Kingdom. Before the advent of FPS, most bank transfers in the UK were processed via the BACS (Bankers’ Automated Clearing Services) system, which could take up to three days to complete a transaction.

Key Features of Faster Payments:

  • Speed: Transactions are typically completed within seconds, although in some cases it may take up to two hours.
  • Availability: The service operates 24/7, including weekends and holidays.
  • Convenience: Both individuals and businesses can use the service for various types of payments, including bill payments, standing orders, and online transfers.
  • Security: Faster Payments employs robust security measures to protect against fraud and ensure the integrity of transactions.

The introduction of Faster Payments revolutionised the banking experience in the UK, making it one of the fastest and most reliable domestic payment systems in the world.

Other Examples of Local Payment Routes

SEPA (Single Euro Payments Area):

Region: European Union (EU) and some non-EU countries.

Overview: SEPA is a payment-integration initiative of the European Union aimed at simplifying bank transfers denominated in euros. It allows for seamless cross-border electronic payments within the Eurozone, making transactions as easy as domestic payments.

Key Features:

  • Standardisation: Uniform standards for processing payments, ensuring consistency and ease of transactions across member countries.
  • Speed: SEPA Credit Transfers typically complete within one business day. SEPA Instant Credit Transfers are processed within seconds, available 24/7.
  • Cost-Effective: Lower transaction fees for euro-denominated payments within the SEPA zone compared to traditional international transfers.
ACH (Automated Clearing House) in the USA:

Region: United States of America.

Overview: ACH is an electronic network for processing large volumes of credit and debit transactions in the United States. It is used for various types of fund transfers, including direct deposits, payroll, and bill payments.

Key Features:

  • Batch Processing: Transactions are processed in batches, typically resulting in settlement within one to two business days.
  • Cost-Effective: Lower transaction costs compared to wire transfers and other payment methods.
  • Versatility: Supports a wide range of transaction types, including business-to-business payments, government transactions, and consumer payments.

How Local Payment Routes Differ from International Systems Like SWIFT

While local payment routes like the UK Faster Payments Service, SEPA, and ACH are designed to handle domestic or regional transactions efficiently, international payment systems such as SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) cater to cross-border transactions. The primary differences between these systems lie in their scope, speed, and cost.

  • Local Payment Routes: These systems are designed for transactions within a specific country or region. For instance, Faster Payments is solely for the UK, SEPA is for euro-denominated transactions within Europe, and ACH is for the USA.
  • SWIFT: This is a global network that enables financial institutions worldwide to send and receive information about financial transactions in a secure, standardised, and reliable environment. It supports international transactions between banks in different countries.
  • Local Payment Routes: Generally offer near-instantaneous transfers. For example, Faster Payments completes most transactions within seconds to a few minutes, and SEPA Instant Credit Transfers also complete within seconds.
  • SWIFT: Typically slower, with international transactions taking anywhere from a few hours to several days to complete, depending on factors like the number of intermediary banks involved and the destination country’s banking infrastructure.
  • Local Payment Routes: Usually have lower fees, given that they handle domestic or regional transactions without the need for intermediary banks. The costs for Faster Payments, SEPA, and ACH are often minimal or even free for personal transactions.
  • SWIFT: Higher fees due to the complexity of international transactions and the involvement of multiple banks. Each bank involved in the transaction may charge a fee, making SWIFT transfers more expensive than local payments.
  • Local Payment Routes: Simpler processes since they deal with a single currency and comply with one country’s or region’s regulatory framework.
  • SWIFT: More complex due to the need to convert currencies and comply with different countries’ regulations and banking systems.

Is a Payment Route the same as a Payment Rail?

Terms like “payment route” and “payment rail” often surface, sometimes leading to confusion regarding their meanings and distinctions. Let’s clarify:

Payment Route: A payment route refers to the specific path or method through which a financial transaction travels from the sender to the recipient. It encompasses the specific channels, networks, and systems involved in facilitating the transfer of funds. For example, when you initiate a wire transfer, the payment route may involve intermediary banks, correspondent banks, and clearing systems.

Payment Rail: In contrast, a payment rail represents the underlying infrastructure or technology that enables the movement of funds between financial institutions. Payment rails serve as the foundational framework for transferring money securely and efficiently, providing the necessary infrastructure for transactions to occur. Examples of payment rails include Automated Clearing House (ACH), wire transfer networks, card networks like Visa, and real-time gross settlement (RTGS) systems.


Local payment routes like the UK Faster Payments Service, SEPA, and ACH provide fast, efficient, and cost-effective ways to handle domestic and regional transactions. They are tailored to the needs of specific areas, offering quick and secure money transfers within those regions. In contrast, international systems like SWIFT facilitate cross-border transactions but come with increased complexity, higher costs, and longer processing times. Understanding the distinctions between these systems is crucial for businesses and individuals to choose the appropriate method for their specific payment needs.

Paying International Suppliers?

If you are making international payments Rutland FX can help you by reducing the cost of cross border payments, you can call us on 0203 026 0112 or request a callback to discuss your requirements.