CHAPS was originally established in London by the Bankers Clearing House in February 1984, transferring to the CHAPS and Town Clearing Company Limited in December 1985. This company also operated the 'town clearing', where cheques cleared the same day between the 'town' bank branches in central London. Town clearing had been the forerunner of the CHAPS system, and was finally closed in 1995.
With the closure of the town clearing, the operating company was renamed to CHAPS Clearing Company Limited (informally 'CHAPS Co'). Responsibility for the CHAPS system transferred from it to the Bank of England in November 2017. On 20 August 2018, the first non bank institution, ipagoo LLP, joined the CHAPS scheme.
A CHAPS transfer is initiated by the sender to move money to the recipient's account (at another banking institution) where the funds need to be available (cleared) the same working day. Unlike with a bank giro credit, no pre-printed slip specifying the details of the recipient is required. Unlike cheques, the funds transfer is performed in real-time removing the issue of float or the potential for payments to be purposely stopped by the sender, or returned due to insufficient funds, even after they appear to have arrived in the destination account.
CHAPS is used by twenty direct participants including the Bank of England and over 4,500 indirect participants (who process transactions via agency arrangements with direct participants). In its first year of operation, average daily transactions numbered 7,000 with an annual value of £5 billion sterling. In 2004, twenty years later, average daily transactions numbered 130,000 with an annual value of £300 billion sterling. In 2010 there were 32 million CHAPS transactions totalling over £61 trillion, down from £73 trillion in 2008.
As well as making transfers originated by banks themselves, CHAPS is frequently used by businesses for high-value payments to suppliers, by mortgage lenders issuing advances, and by solicitors and conveyancers on behalf of individuals buying houses.
Costs and problems
CHAPS transfers are relatively expensive, with banks typically charging as much as £35 for a transfer. The cost of fast transfers and the low speed of free transfers (such as BACS) was a subject of controversy in the UK, until immediate transactions became available from the Faster Payments service.
Problems can arise from delays, e.g. when an exceptional workload at a bank results in the money being cleared too late in a working day to complete related transactions, or inadequate instructions, when a bank is not given sufficient information to know where to credit the money, or in human delay in operating the machines.
As of October 2019 the CHAPS participants are:
- Bank of America London branch
- Bank of China London branch
- Bank of England
- Bank of Scotland
- BNP Paribas London branch
- Citibank London branch
- ClearBank Limited
- CLS Group International (an Edge Act Bank based in New York)
- Clydesdale Bank
- Danske Bank
- Deutsche Bank London branch
- Elavon Financial Services DAC UK branch
- Euroclear Bank SA/NV Brussels Head Office
- Handelsbanken plc (UK subsidiary of Svenska Handelsbanken AB)
- HSBC Bank (Europe) (part of the HSBC Group)
- ING Group Amsterdam Head Office
- ipagoo LLP
- JPMorgan Chase London branch
- LCH Limited
- Lloyds Bank
- National Westminster Bank
- Northern Trust London branch
- Royal Bank of Scotland
- Santander UK
- Société Générale (Paris Head Office)
- Standard Chartered Bank
- State Street Bank and Trust Company London branch
- The Bank of New York Mellon London branch
- The Co-operative Bank
- TSB Bank plc
- UBS London branch
- Virgin Money
CHAPS clearing information relating to UK banks may be found in the Industry Sorting Code Directory.
- CHIPS - the US equivalent of CHAPS
- CHAPS Facts and Figures Archived 2010-01-12 at the Wayback Machine, UKPA. Retrieved 24 October 2011.
- "CHAPS Facts and Figures". UKPA. 2009. Archived from the original on 12 January 2010. Retrieved 24 October 2011.
- "Banking: Automated payments: CHAPS". ombudsman news. Financial Ombudsman Service. December 2004. Retrieved 24 October 2011.
- "'This technology is easily available. There is no reason we can't have it'". Daily Telegraph. 16 March 2005. Retrieved 24 October 2011.
- Faster Payments Archived 2011-08-19 at the Wayback Machine, UK Payments Administration, 2010. Retrieved 24 October 2011.
- "CHAPS". Bank of England. 2019. Retrieved 16 October 2019.