Roq is calling for greater investment by financial services institutions to ensure a smooth transition to the new global messaging standard for payments across the UK.

In the UK, financial institutions are aligning with the Bank of England’s efforts to adopt the ISO 20022 standard. This forms part of its Real-Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) renewal programme. However, Roq warns that some organisations within the UK financial sector simply won’t be ready for the 2025 deadline.

Roq Delivery Lead, Paul Darby, said: “The initiatives being progressed currently represent a new era of efficiency, security, and immediacy within the payments landscape in the UK. Organisations working towards the mandated November 2025 deadline must evolve to meet the unique challenges posed by the introduction of these transformative measures.

Time is running out to meet November 2025 deadline

“Nevertheless, time is running out for organisations to meet this deadline. It means many risk being left behind. This could undermine the banking infrastructure critical to the day-to-day operations of the UK financial sector.”

The adoption of the ISO 20022 standard has been a phased process. However, industry efforts have recently been ramping up. Improvements to the core settlement engine are set to enable ongoing change and evolution within the sector. Increased resilience, wider interoperability and greater user functionality are just a few of the benefits being introduced and signify a considerable leap forward in the efficiency, security, and capability of financial transactions.

Renewal of the RTGS system presents major challenges

This enhancement does mean many financial institutions will have to make significant changes to their systems. And many industry players question whether the UK’s finance sector is ready for such an overhaul.

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Darby added: “The renewal of the RTGS system and the adoption of ISO 20022 present major challenges in the immediate and long term. But if organisations act with the right strategic mindset, they can deploy an approach and a method from the outset that can serve them well for the next generation of payments evolution.

“But it’s critical this process begins now. We urge any financial institution in the UK to reflect on their plans for ISO 20022 implementation and ensure sufficient preparation is in place to meet the November 2025 deadline. Quality Engineering will certainly play a key role in ensuring this transition is seamless for both banks and their customers.”

The RTGS service is the infrastructure that holds accounts for banks, building societies and other institutions. The balances in these accounts can be used to move money in real time between account holders, delivering irrevocable and risk-free settlements.

A world-leading payments service for the UK

Renewing and updating the service is necessary to respond to the dramatically changing ways payments are made, reflecting the evolving needs of households, companies, changes in technology and an evolving regulatory landscape. The aim is for the next generation of RTGS to become a world-leading payments service for the UK.

ISO 20022 adds a layer of further complexity with the introduction of richer and more intricate data. Systems will need to be able to cope with processing diverse transaction types, accommodate additional metadata, and manage detailed information fields. Ensuring systems can proficiently meet this demand will be a focal aim in converting to, and maintaining, real time payments.

Additionally, performance and resilience testing will be critical components within this new landscape. Banks must rigorously test their ability to manage high transaction volumes without compromising accuracy

“We have experience working at the heart of the RTGS programme. We understand the current roadmap and the challenges this presents. Our focus now is on supporting the wider financial services industry in the UK to meet the 2025 deadline and to position themselves to be responsive to further change in the future.”