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Oz central bank laments 'slow and uneven' NPP roll-out by Big Four

Oz central bank laments 'slow and uneven' NPP roll-out by Big Four

The Reserve Bank of Australia has described the roll out of New Payments Platform (NPP) services by major banks "disappointing" and called for action to break down barriers preventing new service providers from accessing the system.

Built by Swift, the NPP went live last February, enabling Australians to transfer funds in seconds.

However, a report put together more than a year later by the central bank with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has found several issues with the running of the platform and made a series of recommendations designed to address these concerns.

While the NPP is enabling payment functionality that largely addresses gaps identified by the Reserve Bank at the beginning of the decade, the report concludes that the "slow and uneven roll-out of NPP services by the major banks has been disappointing".

The Big Four only rolled out their first overlay service, Osko - which enables account-to-account real-time payments via e-mail and mobile phone numbers - late last year.

The leisurely process has "likely slowed the development of new functionality and contributed to stakeholder concerns about access to the NPP," say the central bank, adding that direct access to the platform should be open to "range" of payments service providers.

A major bone of contention is that participants must be ADIs (authorised deposit-taking institutions) - something the report says should be changed.

Another access issue is that participants must make a "material capital contribution". The report calls for more gradation in shareholding requirements and the option to buy shares in instalments.

On governance of the NPP's assessment of applications for access, the report calls for a third independent director and the introduction of a yearly report on how many firms applied and the reasons for their success or failure.

The central bank says it will carry out another review within two years and warns that if it deems there has been insufficient progress, it will consider "regulation via standards mandating functionality or an access regime imposed on the NPP and its participants".

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