Monday, October 21, 2013

Push to speed up banking transactions

Business Australia's banking system is slow.

Australia's bank system is slow. Photo: Gabriele Charotte

The Reserve Bank will speed up the rate of change over the country's payments system if a proposal goes ahead to establish a co-ordination body for the industry.

The RBA wants to set up a senior-level body called the Australian Payments Council to encourage banks and merchants to work together to change the system.

The system covers most day-to-day transactions, ranging from credit and eftpos cards to ATMs and bank accounts. It provides the financial plumbing for the economy.

The proposal comes after the Payments System Board - which is charged with promoting efficiency and competition in the payments system - acknowledged last year there were ''inherent challenges'' in getting industry participants, mostly banks and retailers, to co-ordinate properly on important issues facing the industry.

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The lack of co-ordination has often stifled innovation. When it comes to issues such as ''real-time'' banking, the lack of co-ordination has left Australia lagging other countries, which have faster payment systems. The RBA has become increasingly frustrated with the inability of existing players to reach agreement on the best way to speed up banking transactions. It wants all banks to be able to make real-time payments by the end of 2016.

In a joint paper on Monday, the RBA and the Australian Payments Clearing Association said the proposed council would help to generate ''common industry positions'' on important issues that could be recommended for adoption by the industry.


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