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How to navigate the Australian Payments Network

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Last editedJune 20212 min read

In 2019, about seventy per cent of Australian consumers used non-cash means to pay for goods and services and make other financial transactions. The Australian consumer community includes individual consumers as well as business, financial, and government entities. The Australian Payments Network, known as AusPayNet, oversees the majority of payment systems in Australia with regard to both retail and wholesale purchases and currently administers the systems that account for ninety-eight per cent of non-cash payments in the country.

AusPayNet is comprised of three areas:

  • individual payment systems

  • the infrastructure that supports them

  • the organisations that operate them

How AusPayNet works

The Australian payment community engages in two classes of payments: retail and wholesale. Individual consumers and business entities utilize retail payments, while wholesale payments are used to settle transactions in financial markets. Retail payments are more numerous, but only account for a small part of the total value of payments; wholesale payments are much smaller in number but are typically of a high value, and thus account for most of the value of payments.

Non-cash payment systems, like AusPayNet, arrange the settlement of a payment obligation between members of the Australian payment community through the transfer of funds. To complete a payment using non-cash means, a customer first initiates the process by presenting a debit or credit card, writing a check, or making an electronic funds transfer. Then, a communications network sends payment messages to all involved. Funds are directed from the account of a payer – or customer – to the account of a beneficiary, which could be a seller, business, or financial institution.

The settlement of payment obligation can be quite involved depending upon what financial institutions the payer and beneficiary use. If they use the same one, the payment can be processed on the beneficiary’s books. If they use different ones, payment messages are exchanged and funds transferred as an interbank settlement with the cooperation of a settlement institution like the Reserve Bank.

What does membership entail?

In addition to managing Australian payment systems, AusPayNet leads regulatory activity including the development and management of standards, rules, and guidelines that inform the operation of the payment industry. The community of financial institutions, payment service providers, technology companies and regulators that make up the membership of the network are engaged in collaborative decision-making in several ways: management committees focused on payment instruments, an issuers and acquirers forum, and new technology and policy working groups.

Guide for new entrants

AusPayNet has published a guide for new entrants to the system, geared toward companies in the growing fintech industry. This guide provides those who are new to the Australian payment system with information on how to navigate the payment landscape. Other topics covered include:

  • how to participate in the card payments system

  • how to install new POS technology in the card system

  • how to participate in the direct entry system, BPAY and real-time payments

  • how to meet requirements for participation and licencing

Other resources and support

In governing payment systems in Australia, AusPayNet provides a wide range of resources for participants and payment service providers to better understand their payment frameworks. Some of these resources include:

  • rules and regulations

  • guidelines, fact sheets, and brochures outlining rules and security standards

  • details of all approved devices, such as ATMs, POS, and others

  • fraud statistics and reports

In addition, each of AusPayNet’s six payment frameworks is managed by a committee that reports directly to the Board.

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