The Faster Payments Service designed to enable real-time payments over the internet or phone has been delayed until the end of May 2008, having originally been slated to go live in November.

The delay was widely anticipated after UK payments association Apacs last month said that testing of the service was going more slowly than anticipated.

The infrastructure for the service has been developed by VocaLink to deliver real-time payments to the UK. It’s designed to let customers use the internet or phone to make a payment that will reach the recipient's bank account within just a few hours.

The multi-million pound development of the new system has arisen from an agreement between the banking industry and the Office of Fair Trading's payment systems working group.

The new system has 13 financial institutions signed up as founding members, with others able to join or access the system through agency arrangements with a founding member. Each member bank will decide when to introduce the service to corporate and personal customers.

Apacs said the revised timescale would "allow sufficient time for the further rigorous testing required at both the centre and by banks to ensure customers can benefit from safe and secure faster payments".