Get set for real-time payments down under
By Richard Davies , Asia Pacific Director at Logica
The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) has been encouraging Australian banks to innovate for some time now. In a consultation paper released earlier this year, the Central Bank highlighted calls for the centralisation of the Australian payments architecture in order to implement a real-time payments system. This is a pertinent reminder that the implementation of Australian real-time payments is both inevitable and imminent.
Pressure for change in the industry is mounting. This comes not only from the RBA but also from customers. Schemes such as UK Faster Payments, G3 in Singapore and Payments in Real Time (a Swedish initiative), show that real-time payments programmes are spreading across the globe and are a phenomenon that cannot be ignored.
In many ways, Australia is already leaps and bounds ahead of other developed nations when it comes to the national payments infrastructure. Australians benefit from services such as BPAY to pay their bills and most would never dream of resorting to direct debits for their rent or utility charges. In addition, the country continues to invest heavily in its infrastructure and has been engaged in replacing legacy systems for several years.
Despite continued demands for innovation in payments, banks are still dragging their feet and it’s the new kids on the block, such as PayPal, that are starting to flourish and gain popularity with customers. It’s time for the banks to change tack and embrace real-time payments as a way to improve customer service. Technology is of course an important piece of the puzzle and investment in systems is clearly a necessity. There is a bigger picture though: in order for real-time payments in Australia to be a success story, banks must shift their attitudes and initiate a more open and candid discussion around implementation rather than stifle innovation.