Payment Received: Australia’s payment systems set for rapid change

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The word ‘Pending’ will soon disappear from internet banking statements, to be replaced with ‘Payment received – Thank you.’

The convenience of processing a payment and the funds appearing almost instantly in your business’s bank account will be possible in the second half of 2017 when the New Payment Platform (NPP) is rolled out.

The NPP is a a SWIFT initiative that will facilitate real-time electronic payments between businesses and consumers. It is poised to shake up the payment landscape in Australia but it’s not exactly a household name.

At the moment just five per cent of organisations are aware the NPP will soon be a reality according to the March 2015 update of Business Attitudes to Electronic Payments Systems, a research study commissioned by HCL Technologies and conducted by Roy Morgan Research.

The research found that 22 per cent said they have heard something about NPP but they aren’t aware of all the details.

Still in the early stages of development the NPP is a platform predicted to open up opportunities for new services, streamline the payments process, and will allow payments to be directed to a specific account using either a mobile phone number or an email address.

Participating institutions will be able to make funds available within seconds of the payment being made, between any two Australian accounts. Banks will need to provide 24/7 service to consumers and money travelling in real time means there will be a new set of challenges around risk and fraud prevention.

The NPP is an industry initiative driven by the Australian Payments Clearing Association (APAC). Currently 12 financial institutions are committed to funding and building the NPP, including the Reserve Bank of Australia, Commonwealth Bank, Westpac and NAB.

Similar systems are already operating around the world. In the United Kingdom Faster Payments launched in 2008 which enables phone, internet and standing order payments to move quickly and securely 24 hours a day.

Singapore has FAST (Fast And Secure Transfers) a new electronic funds transfer service which launch in March 2014 that enables customers of the participating banks to transfer Singapore Dollar funds from one bank to another in Singapore almost instantly.

In Mexico you can pay by SPEI (pronounced Spy) which stands for sistema de pagos electronicos interbancarios, or roughly translated to English, Interbank electronic payment system. It enables bank clients to send and receive money transfers in a matter of seconds.

Jason Hulme, general manager of financial services at Roy Morgan, said that this is a watershed moment for the payments industry in Australia and the rate of change over the next few years will be rapid.

“Financial institutions and their customers will experience unprecedented levels of change over the next few years as new payments methods continue to emerge. This will open up opportunities for banks to get closer to their Main Financial Institution customers in a very tangible way,” he said.

“On the flip side, unless Australia’s major banks are proactive and support this change, the threat of losing this vital touch point to third parties is very real. Customers will continue to raise their expectations in terms of speed, convenience, and security. As a result, it would be short-sighted to assume that the likes of PayPal, crypto-currencies, and digital wallets will be the end of innovation in this space. Banks must support both their merchants and customers to ensure that, where appropriate, preferred methods of payments are supported.”

According to the research conducted by Roy Morgan, PayPal is by far the most requested of new payment methods by consumers, used by more than three in ten organisations operating in the following sectors: wholesale trade; professional, technical and scientific services; retail trade; and manufacturing.

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