Bank of England to set out plans to open up interbank payments in coming months

LONDON, May 9 (Reuters) - The Bank of England said on Tuesday it will set out plans by the middle of this year to widen access to Britain’s interbank payment system, part of efforts to boost the country’s financial infrastructure over the next few years.

The BoE wants to open up the payments system to allow a variety of financial firms to compete with the major high street banks that currently have access to the high-speed payments system, which handles 500 billion pounds ($647 billion) a day.

The central bank also confirmed the new system would be designed so it can link in future with distributed ledger technology, which underpins digital currencies like Bitcoin.

The new system will be designed to operate five days a week and almost 24 hours a day, and could be upgraded to 24/7 operation if there is demand. The BoE said it aimed to roll out most of the upgrades by the end of 2020. ($1 = 0.7729 pounds) (Reporting by Andy Bruce, editing by David Milliken)