RBA push for new body to grease the wheels of transactions

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

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

The Reserve wants to set up a senior-level body, called the Australian Payments Council, to encourage banks and merchants to work together to improve the payments 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 Payments System Board - which is charged with promoting efficiency and competition - last year acknowledged there were "inherent challenges" in getting industry participants - mostly banks and retailers - to co-ordinate properly on important issues facing the industry.

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 - from the UK to Mexico - that have much faster payment systems.

The Reserve Bank 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 Reserve Bank 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 action and adoption by the industry. The council would also work closely with the Payments System Board on the board's "strategic objectives."

"This [new council] is expected to lead to better strategic and regulatory outcomes for the industry and end-users alike," the paper says.

The council would be comprised of representatives of the big four banks as well as members of foreign and regional financial institutions, credit unions and building societies.

Representatives from the Reserve Bank and the Australian Payments Clearing Association would also sit on the council.

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