Australia has been making moves to modernize its payment ecosystem by creating a new way for Australians to send and receive payments – and already they’re starting to see promising returns. In February, the country launched the New Payments Platform (NPP), offering a new method for real-time low-value payments. Since its launch, nearly five million transactions have been processed through the platform.
First announced in 2013, the impetus that led to the creation of the NPP was the Strategic Review of the Innovation in Payments System, a publication reporting on the conclusions and recommendations of the Reserve Bank of Australia’s Payment System Board. Ultimately, the goal is to remove barriers, encourage innovation and provide more robust and responsive payment options for the Australian public.
The internet and mobile technology have enabled today’s consumers to shop, buy and transact 24/7 – and they have a very clear expectation to be able to do so. As a new payments infrastructure, NPP aims to meet those demands by providing ways for customers of varying financial institutions to send and receive real-time payments at any time they desire. Likewise, the platform will help businesses meet the growing demands of customers by offering faster access to products and services through an easier-to-use payment system, creating a better customer experience in the process.
NPP promises fast, flexible, and data-rich payments. It was introduced by the Australian Payments Network Limited (AusPayNet), the self-regulatory body for the payments industry in Australia. Consisting of 120 organizations, including many of the country’s leading financial institutions and major retailers, AusPayNet’s goal is to improve safety, reliability, equity, convenience and efficiency for payment systems across Australia. Reflecting the global nature of online business, eCommerce and financial services, NPP’s coverage goals will eventually branch out to include a faster method for international payments.
Currently, the NPP is focused on updating Australia’s domestic payment system and was designed to offer four key functionalities:
- Increased speed for making payments a real-time experience with near instant access to funds
- 24/7 availability for sending and receiving payments at any time
- Data enriched capabilities for sending payments with more complete remittance information
- Simple addressing in payments by using an easy identifier such as phone number, email address, business number or other identifier
That final point is supported by another new functionality known as PayID.
Simple as PayID
PayID is a function of the platform that allows consumers to link financial accounts to easy-to-remember pieces of information such as their phone number or email address. Upon set up of the account or the PayID service, users select an appropriate key (depending on the requirements of their bank) and that in turn is authenticated and verified by the bank. Each PayID is unique to each user, registered with their bank, and securely linked to their account.
Once it is set up and ready, users can then start to use their PayID by providing it to anyone they are sending payments to or receiving payments from – without ever again having to track down, remember or share a bank account number.
Mitigating Risk, Meeting Regulation
Of course, like with anything new, there are risks and concerns. One of the most serious is that by making money transfer faster and easier, the risk of fraud also increases – in both frequency and speed. With less time to process a payment, some fear that means less time to check for fraud or other nefarious activities.
Since NPP’s launch, Adrian Lovney, NPP Australia’s CEO, reports that fraud has been lower than expected. Yet some customers have been the victims of phishing schemes seeking login credentials. Participants in the NPP have been working together to share information and thwart fraudulent activity, but identity verification is one area where Australia’s system faces some risk. “At the moment, our banks identify their customers in a proprietary manner and cannot lend their ID verification to third parties,” Lovney adds.
This is currently a discussion point within the country’s banking sector, which has been looking for ways to improve its identity verification systems and standards. The risk of fraud in real-time payment processes can be greatly mitigated by supporting technologies and processes, such as secure, real-time identity verification. Doing so would strengthen NPP’s performance and mitigate its fraud risk, as well as helping with compliance matters.
While the NPP comes with a set of its own regulations designed to make the platform more secure and accountable, banks in Australia like banks elsewhere have to be vigilant in meeting their requirements for Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Know Your Customer (KYC) regulation. A strong identity verification platform will help check against watchlists and verify customers with ease.
Going forward, the team behind NPP is expecting that both Australians and businesses in international markets will be looking at how it or a similar platform can work beyond Australia’s borders. For Australians, that means using NPP’s functions for international purchases, transactions and remittances. For the international market, it means tracking how well it performs in delivering on its goals and promises, as well as experiences and best practices for modernizing and implementing similar systems in other countries.