Being seen as leading the world in digital banking and payments isn’t enough for Australia’s central bank. In June 2012 The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) laid out its plans for the creation of the Australian Payments Council due to its frustration with the slow pace of innovation in the industry.

This is a region that has pioneered some of the biggest steps forward the global finance industry has seen in digital banking and payments, and it is still being accused of moving too slowly by its central bank. If this doesn’t suggest that the financial services industry is bringing up the rear in terms of digital adoption, I don’t know what does.

With the big four Aussie banks – ANZ, CommBank, NAB, and Westpac – all signed up to the council, there is little doubt that the organisation will be able to make its voice heard.

Along with the banks the Australian Payments Clearing Association and the RBA; Visa, PayPal, eftpos Payments, First Data, Cuscal, and Woolworths are also on the council.

One of the biggest issues that the council will be looking to tackle is the delay to real time faster payments, a version of the system adopted in the UK and Singapore through Vocalink and most likely supplied by the same.

The industry developed a proposal for faster, data-rich payments through a special purpose real-time Payments Committee in 2012, which was accepted by the central bank in December 2012. The New Payments Platform Program was then established in June 2013 -a major industry initiative to collaboratively develop new new, fast flexible and data-rich payments infrastructure for Australia.

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The RBA understandably believes that bringing the industry together through the payments council will help it to achieve faster payments by 2016.

Ahead of the council’s first meeting in October, Christine McLoughlin, newly appointed chairperson of the Australian Payments Council, told EPI that the council will be looking to provide a common ground for discussion on the digitalisation of the industry that is opening up to new players.

McLoughlin says: "The purpose of the first meeting will be to agree what those initial priorities might be and what some of the longer term priorities might be."

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