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Introducing GOV.UK Pay

Payments team standup

We’ve previously blogged about the work we’re doing to make payments more convenient and efficient. During the alpha phase of our project we developed a prototype that helped us do user research and test our technical ideas. We've now started the beta phase where we’ll take real payments. We’ve also given our project a proper name: ‘GOV.UK Pay’.

Working with partners in government

A cross-government platform can’t be developed in isolation. It needs collaboration, business process analysis, and lots of user research. We’ve already talked with many of our colleagues across government to find out how they currently take payments and how that could be improved. We’re now starting to intensify that research and focus on taking credit and debit card payments for some online transactions of our partners:

  • Companies House
  • Environment Agency
  • Home Office
  • Ministry of Justice

We’d like to say thank you to all those teams for collaborating with us to develop this beta phase. Their contribution is vital - we can’t (and we won’t) launch anything until we’re all certain it meets user needs and achieves the highest security standards.

In the coming weeks we’ll collaborate with these partners to make sure we fully understand the needs of citizens using the payments service and the civil servants administering the payments. The developers in our team will also start pairing with our partner’s developers to focus on technical integration.

Future plans: Direct Debit

In parallel to doing the development work, we’re also going to start exploring the user needs associated with Direct Debit payments. DVLA has recently successfully implemented the Direct Debit payment method, and we’re excited to have them help us kick off the research. We plan to start the actual development work for a Direct Debit payment method early next year.

If you’re interested in our project please get in touch.

Does this sound like the kind of problem you'd like to work on? We’re currently hiring developers and web operations engineers. We’re always on the look out for talented people to join the team so take a look at our videos describing how we work, our vacancies page, or drop us a line:

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  1. Comment by Rob posted on

    What happens to your get in touch form requests? The ones that use google forms.

    I have filled it out several times, on this and previous posts and you have never been in contact. However I notice you are very good at answering public comments.

    • Replies to Rob>

      Comment by Louise Duffy posted on

      Hi Rob,

      I don't think we've ever had these forms on the blog. Do you mean the pages on GOV.UK that ask if there's anything wrong with a page? Please clarify which forms you're referring to or send us a link to a page which has the form and we can take a look.

      Thanks, Louise

      • Replies to Louise Duffy>

        Comment by Rob posted on

        Hi Louise,

        err.... Think you have... In fact on this very page... scroll up and you will see the text..

        "If you’re interested in our project please get in touch."

        So I was, so I clicked, so I did...

        • Replies to Rob>

          Comment by Louise Duffy posted on

          Sorry about that Rob! I've passed on your details to Till Wirth so he'll be in touch soon.

  2. Comment by A Robertson posted on

    That's great to hear. Do you expect credit card fees to be abolished with this service? I currently have to pay an additional fee to pay by credit card for my car tax, (but not using a debit card). Other government departments, such as for a rod fishing licence, don't charge me for using a credit card.

    • Replies to A Robertson>

      Comment by Till Wirth posted on

      The important thing for me is that we eventually provide a wide selection of payment methods. This should allow users to choose how they pay according to their preferences. In terms of the fees, GOV.UK Pay wont be setting them. We'll leave this to the government service teams that partner with us.

  3. Comment by Ali posted on

    What about a "Paying out" feature? For example, departments paying out for bills or compensation etc.

    • Replies to Ali>

      Comment by Till Wirth posted on

      Thanks, Ali. GOV.UK Pay currently only focusses on online payments into government. The process of paying out is quite different since it's usually done via a direct bank transfer without an online service.

  4. Comment by Jack posted on

    Will you build a proper direct debit platform for paye tax, as currently you have to set up a payment every month.

    • Replies to Jack>

      Comment by Till Wirth posted on

      Hi Jack, good to hear your feedback that recurring payments for Direct Debit are important. We're only at the very beginning of our discovery around Direct Debit but it seems that improving the process of setting up recurring payments with Direct Debit is very important to users.

  5. Comment by Steven Smith posted on

    What's behind the decision to build a bespoke payments platform for government rather than integrating with multiple private sector payments platforms like PayPal? (etc etc)

    • Replies to Steven Smith>

      Comment by Anonymous posted on

      And -
      - What experience does the team behind this have of architecting systems to handle millions of transactions with resilience and integrity?
      - Who supports this when things go wrong or it is inevitably hacked?
      - Who owns the financial liability?
      And so on. If I go to market for this service, I can make sure all these questions are robustly and transparently answered. Putting some usable and well-designed screens in front is a trivial task compared to getting the underpinnings right and I can easily and more confidently get those from the same payment providers.

    • Replies to Steven Smith>

      Comment by Till Wirth posted on

      Thanks for your comment, Steven. We are using payment providers in the market to process the payments. You could say that GOV.UK Pay acts as a broker between government services and payments providers.