Europe Paytech Weekend Read

Direct Debit Turns 50 with 78 Billion Payments

It may not be an entry in too many people’s diaries, but this year represents a golden milestone for Direct Debit, as one of the most familiar payment methods in the UK turns 50.

A trusted brand, which has become synonymous with ensuring bills are paid reliably and without fuss, moves £1.3 trillion worth of payments each year.

Now a part of everyday life and a household name, Direct Debit was launched in 1970 – a year that saw the first music festival held at Glastonbury – and at the time represented how the world of bill payments was changing.

Today, Direct Debit – which is owned and run by UK retail payments authority, Pay.UK, along with Faster Payments and cheques – is relied on by thousands of service users to reliably collect funds and has a half-century of continued year-on-year growth.

Part of that is down to the many more bills paid today. In the 1970s, regular payments were limited to mortgage or rent, and electricity or gas. Nowadays, there are mobile phone bills, broadband bundles, gaming subscriptions, in-app payments, and half a dozen different types of insurance; as well as spreading the cost of major purchases from holidays to cars, and more mundane ones such as our TV licence or Vehicle Excise Duty, and settle dual fuel, water, and council bills without ever having to leave the house.

Maha El Dimachki, Pay.UK’s Chief Payments Officer, said: “We need payments to work without fuss so we can get on with the important things in our lives. During this unusual, difficult year, Direct Debit has continued to run quietly, securely, and reliably in the background, as it has in the past 50 years, collecting payments for billers and giving customers peace of mind that the services they need and want are being paid for with the minimum of effort on their part.

“And we are determined that will remain the case for as long as end-users need and value it. Our team continues to work hard to ensure the service operates smoothly and efficiently, this year and in the years to come.”


  • Polly is a journalist, content creator and general opinion holder from North Wales. She has written for a number of publications, usually hovering around the topics of fintech, tech, lifestyle and body positivity.

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