PayID: Faster, But Definitely Not Safer


Australians will finally enjoy the ability to send each other money in “real time”, with the launch of the New Payments Platform this week. The platform is a mixture of new processes for settling transactions between banks, guided by the Reserve Bank of Australia.

But while this may make payments faster, it could also make them less safe.

And data from the United Kingdom’s real-time payments platform, Faster Payments, show the take-up of Australia’s system may not be that strong. Although it was launched 10 years ago, Faster Payments has not yet become the most popular payment method in the UK. The most popular is still the traditional system, which takes three days to clear.

Research into the Faster Payments platform shows it is rife with fraud and scams. Part of the problem in the UK is that banks have trouble identifying potentially fraudulent transactions.

How To Use PayID: Australia's New Payments Platform

The imaginatively named New Payments Platform (which is a great name until it's replaced one day) promises to make it easier to send money between parties. One of the first applications to use the NPP will be PayID. It will let you send money to other people without having to remember annoying details like BSBs or account numbers.

You create your own unique identifier and funds can be moved between parties in near real-time - no need to wait for batch runs of payments between financial institutions. But how do you get in on this?

Read more

The New Payments Platform will also change how you transfer money. BSB and account numbers will still exist, but individuals and businesses can create other identifiers, called “PayID”. This means mobile numbers or email addresses can also be used as a way to identify yourself, both to pay and be paid by others.

The platform will also remove the delays caused by weekends and public holidays and mean you can make transfers after business hours.

The impetus for a real-time payment platform came from a 2012 review by the Reserve Bank of Australia. It found that Australia’s payment system lagged behind even less developed nations, such as Mexico.

But not all banks have signed on to the new payments platform. Those taking a wait-and-see approach include Bank of Queensland, Suncorp and Rabobank. Even some of the subsidiaries of one of the big four banks, Westpac (such as Bank of Melbourne and St George), will not be involved in the launch of the New Payments Platform.

Fraud and abuse in real time

Before the New Payments Platform, numerous safeguards were built into Australia’s payment system that limited fraud and abuse. For instance, if you were planning to buy a car, you would likely go into your bank and ask for a bank cheque. This cheque would be made out to the name of the dealership or person selling the car.

A number of protections are built in to this system. The money is guaranteed by your bank and will clear within three days once deposited. If someone with a different name tries to deposit the cheque, then the cheque will not be accepted and hence the payment will be revoked.

Under the terms and conditions issued by one of the participating banks, banks are not liable for losses that are a result of you giving the wrong account information. Furthermore, a transfer instruction given by you, once accepted by your bank, is irrevocable.

This also applies if you were fraudulently induced to make a transfer via the New Payments Platform. In this case your bank might be able to help you recover the funds, but the recipient of the funds (potentially a fraudster) will have to consent to repay your funds. So if you have a dispute with a recipient of your funds transfer, you will need to resolve the dispute directly with that person or organisation under the new scheme.

It is likely that similar terms and conditions will apply to all the institutions that are members of the New Payments Platform.

The problem will only get worse as the “cap” on transactions is lifted. This happened in the United Kingdom once the Faster Payments cap was raised to £250,000 in 2015.

According to the managing director of the UK Payment Systems Regulator, Hannah Nixon: “There is no silver bullet for [authorised push payment] scams and some people will still, unfortunately, lose out.” Nixon added that account holders also need to take “an appropriate level of care” in protecting themselves.

The UK experience shows that the New Payment Platform is likely to speed up transactions. It took two years for Faster Payments to pass 500 million transactions, but it sped up and passed 5 billion transactions in just over seven years.

In June 2017, Faster Payments processed 135.7 million payments, which was a 15% increase on the previous June. These payments amounted to a total of £115 billion for that month.

But Faster Payments is still not the biggest payment platform in the United Kingdom. Although we don’t know exactly why, there are many possible reasons – including customers not wanting to switch from something they are used to and a fear of fraud.

It could also be that British financial institutions are not promoting Faster Payments to their customers as they can charge higher fees on the traditional payment platform.

The ConversationAbove all, the big concern is detecting fraudulent activity in real time – something that will concern banks’ risk management and which may have led to some choosing to hang back. Payments on the New Payments Platform may be faster and easier to make, but will they be safer? It could just make fraud faster and easier for fraudsters, and harder to undo for victims.

Steve Worthington, Adjunct Professor, Swinburne University of Technology

This article was originally published on The Conversation.


    I thought there was something fishy about that ad.

    850 words without saying anything. Was this brutally edited? The fear of safety with PayID is a worth topic, but there's nothing in this article about how safety has changed.

    There seem to be two paragraphs addressing safety, but neither of them say how anything has changed. Did I miss something, or did I get clickbaited?

      All I got out of it was the idea that because the UK's underlying banking system is rubbish, their fast payments system isn't safe, which somehow means that the Australian fast payments system isn't safe despite having a different underlying banking system.
      So yes, quite possibly clickbaited.

    I know right, it seems to say, be careful that you provide the correct information to people when you want them to pay you - and be sure anyone you do pay is legitimate (it has always been hit and miss trying to get money back if you stuff up!).

    I thought both of these things were common sense - the slower option is still available - this option just makes it easier and quicker.

    Also, they say take up may not be as great as people expect. Australia has always been quick to adopt new technologies and payment methods. I know in the US when I was there only 10 years ago, people were still writing cheques to pay for groceries!!

    I think the author thought PayID, that's make them click on the story!

    PayID should be renamed "Reverse phone lookup directory"

    This is absurd, the issues pointed out are all assuming that people are dumb / desperate enough to fall for scams. People are still scammed on the normal system the only difference is the banks can’t do squat once you send the money to the scammer not that you would realise you’ve been scammed until the end of the 3 day transaction period anyway! The only real issue i could see would be theifs forcing people to use their finger print to send money instanly to anonymous accounts.. XD though that’s unlikely.

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