What is a CHAPS payment or bank transfer?

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Nick Knuppe
Head of Product Marketing
Customer-centric marketer, fanatical about GTM.

CHAPS is one of the largest high-value payment systems in the world. CHAPS bank transfers are known for being efficient and risk-free and are great for transferring large sums of money. There are thousands of financial institutions that currently allow account holders to use CHAPS as a way of transferring money from one bank account to another quickly, usually within a few hours or overnight.

What does CHAPS payment mean?

CHAPS stands for Clearing House Automated Payment System. A CHAPS payment is a UK-based bank-to-bank transfer system that is typically used for one-off, high-value payments that need to be sent as soon as possible, usually the same day or overnight.

Why use CHAPS?

There are a few situations in which CHAPS payments are preferred or necessary. For the most part, CHAPS bank transfers are only used when you need a large sum of money transferred quickly, and can't afford to wait a few days. Some examples of when a CHAPS payment may be necessary include:

  • A large business or financial institution needs to settle money market and foreign exchange transactions before the end of the day.

  • A corporation needs to make a high-value, time-sensitive payment, such as to a supplier or for paying taxes.

  • A solicitor or conveyancer needs to complete housing and other property transactions.

  • An individual is looking to purchase a high-value item such as a car, or for paying a deposit for a house.

How does a CHAPS bank transfer work?

If you need to use a CHAPS bank transfer, you will need to follow the instructions of your bank. Most banks will require you to visit in person for same-day CHAPS transfers, although this is not always the case. There is a fee associated with CHAPS transfers that will depend on your financial institution and whether you are transferring within your bank or to another bank. These fees can be quite high, which is why CHAPS transfers are not used for small transactions.

In order to guarantee that your payment is sent the same day through CHAPS, most banks require that you have the payment arranged before 3 pm. Any CHAPS payments made after 3 pm will be processed the next morning. Same-day CHAPS transfers will usually be delivered by 5 pm or sooner depending on when the payment was sent. 

What are Faster Payments?

Faster Payments is a system that was set up in 2008 to make transferring money between bank accounts even faster than other methods. Using this system, there is no wait time for money to clear, making transactions take place almost instantly between two bank accounts. A majority of banks in the UK are members of the Faster Payments services and will allow account owners to use this form of transaction. 

Most payments made online or via phone in the UK are made using Faster Payments. This system does not require you to pay any fees but does need to be within the transaction limit of your bank. This is the reason CHAPS is still used instead of Faster Payments in some cases, as it is not held to the same transaction limits.

Faster Payments are extremely convenient because payments are usually transferred instantly, allowing the receiver to immediately have the money in their account. It is worth noting that, although the service is free to use and most transfers happen quickly, Faster Payments makes no promise on exactly how long it will take. Some transfers may take several hours, but most are instantaneous. 

CHAPS vs. Bacs

Bacs stands for Bankers Automated Clearing Services. This is the transfer method used to handle all credit and debit card transactions and is the most common bank transfer method used by UK businesses. Bacs payments are typically used for everyday transactions that people make day-to-day. These might include regular bank transfers, payments to suppliers, employee wages, pension payments, and more. 

Bacs payments typically take around two to three business days to go through. This is suitable for everyday transactions but can be inconvenient for transactions that need to go through faster than that. Bacs transfer fees tend to be on the low end,

CHAPS payments are not usually done for everyday transactions but are instead for payments that need to go through on the same day. This is because you are paying a premium in order to get the transaction to go through faster. This is why CHAPS transfers are usually only used in situations where large sums of money must be transferred quickly.

Effortless online payments with Mollie

Mollie allows your business to accept all major online payment methods quickly and easily. It only takes 15 minutes to set up an account and you only pay for successful transactions. 

At Mollie, we believe every business has the right to grow, which is why we aim to make accepting payments easy and stress-free. Our effortless payment API offers a custom-branded checkout and multiple payment methods to boost conversion. Easily integrate Mollie payments with your website and onboard quickly with no minimum costs, no lock-in contracts, and no hidden fees.

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