A near real-time payment system that allows people to send funds to their friends and family using only a mobile phone number or email address is scheduled to go live in Australia next month.
The New Payments Platform (NPP) is currently undergoing testing within participating banks before its full public rollout in February, a spokesperson for the initiative told ZDNet. “Once the platform launches, the participating banks, building societies, and credit unions will commence rolling out their NPP-enabled services to their customers,” they added.
Supported by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), which has helped build the underlying infrastructure for the platform, there are 13 participants in the NPP, including three which act as service providers for small financial institutions. Therefore, when the NPP goes live, customers of around 50 banks will be able to access the service from day one.
The terms of the NPP require banks to clear the settlement of any transactions and forward the funds to the recipient within 30 seconds – a significant improvement on Australia’s standard payments processing system, which places transactions into batches for clearing and can take several hours to complete.
In addition to the faster settlements, the new platform also offers the ability to include much more data with the payment. With existing services, just 18 characters of data are permitted, but this will rise to 280 characters with NPP.
This extra space is expected to allow for the adding of data such as goods and services tax information, hyperlinks to documents, or a field that triggers an overlay. This richer data is expected to facilitate e-invoicing and straight-through processing, as well as offer enhanced functionality to government agencies, representatives of the RBA’s Payments Policy Department stated last year.