Australian Payments Council urges new digital payments priorities to combat fraud, downtime


The Australian Payments Council (APC) has launched its new strategic agenda, outlining five priority areas to boost consumer confidence in payments infrastructure in the face of persistent systems outages and mounting losses from fraudulent transactions.

Building on the APC’s 2015 Australian Payments Plan, the latest agenda, Payments in a Global, Digital World – which incorporates data from 34 organisations, including state government agencies – illustrates a “step change” in the council’s approach, recognising growing trends in globalisation and progressive regionalisation in payments services.

Regional models of financial services (i.e. those better suited to local conditions) are emerging due to complexities in regulatory priorities, customer needs, and technological capabilities worldwide, according to the World Economic Forum.

To keep pace with these trends, the APC has identified five key focus areas to improve consumers’ “trust and confidence” in payments services: systemic resilience, combatting financial crime, financial inclusion and accessibility, interoperability and sustainable innovation.

“Our vision encapsulates a payments system that continues to inspire trust and confidence and to support the economy in this dynamic, global context,” said Robert Millner, Chairman of the APC.

As cross-border transactions become faster and more seamless, security and fraud were highlighted as critical concerns for the APC – with financial losses totalling $565 million in Australia in the year up to June 2018 – driving calls for sector-wide collaboration in financial crime monitoring and prevention.

The council also warned that the decline of traditional payment methods could hinder certain users – such as Australians over 85, or those living with a disability – from consistent access to appropriate payment options, prompting APC to develop benchmarks promoting payments system accessibility.

APC’s priorities echo the Reserve Bank of Australia’s (RBA) ongoing efforts to modernise Australia’s payments infrastructure, for instance, working alongside APRA and industry to boost operational resilience in light of a 40 per cent increase in bank outages over 2018.

The RBA is also promoting greater interoperability by looking into the adoption of the ISO 20022 message standard across Australia’s payments system more broadly, given SWIFT’s decision to migrate certain messaging formats to the same standard.

Another key priority area for the Reserve is the further development of the New Payments Platform (NPP) to boost industry-wide competition and encourage more overlay services on the real-time payments platform.

Last month, the RBA lashed the major banks for delays in the rollout of NPP features for their business customers.

The Australian Payments Council’s 2019 Strategic Agenda, Payments in a Global, Digital World, can be viewed here.