Two year delay for NPP laggards

George Lekakis Payments, mobile & wallets

Millions of Australian banking customers will not get access to real time payments services until next year after two of the country’s most prominent challenger banks – AMP Bank and HSBC Australia - confirmed further delays to their NPP rollout programs.

AMP Bank, which abandoned plans to overhaul its core banking system earlier this year, told Banking Day last night that transaction customers would not be offered services linked to the National Payments Platform before 2020.

The NPP system cranked up in February 2018 and as of June 2019 accounted for less than seven per cent of all direct entry payments, the batch-based system the NPP is ultimately intended to replace.

“It is on our roadmap for next year,” an AMP Bank spokesperson said.

The bank declined to comment on whether the rollout would be completed in the first half or towards the end of the year.

HSBC Australia, which has grown its retail deposit base by 40 per cent to more than A$12 billion since 2017, also confirmed to Banking Day that its soaring customer base would have to wait until next year for NPP access.

“HSBC is on track to join the NPP in the first half of 2020,” a spokesperson said.

A swathe of other banks were unable to clearly indicate when they would begin marketing real time services to customers.

ME Bank and Bank of Queensland did not respond to questions from Banking Day concerning the progress of their roll outs – an indication that they are also likely to keep their customers marooned from the NPP for some time.

Customers of two Bendigo-owned subsidiaries – Delphi Bank and Adelaide Bank – can only guess when they will be able to receive and send instant payments.

“The group is actively working with each of its brands and will prioritise rollout accordingly,” was the curt answer from Bendigo.

Many Suncorp customers also might have to wait until next year for the full NPP deal to arrive.

“Our customers are able to receive fast payments into their accounts regardless of their preferred digital channel,” a spokesperson said.

“Those customers that would like to send fast payments can do so by downloading our Suncorp App.

“We are currently developing our PayID service and are working hard to deliver this as soon as we can.”

Since the start of August Macquarie customers with a transaction or savings account have been able to receive instant payments through the NPP infrastructure.
A spokesperson said that Macquarie customers would be able to start sending payments “in the coming months”.

RBA payments officials are frustrated with the lethargic roll-out of NPP-related services since the real time payments platform was launched 18 months ago.

The delays have resulted in NPP Australia acquiring new powers to impose fines on institutions that fail to meet performance benchmarks or rollout deadlines.

It is not clear whether any banks are set to be sanctioned under the new regime despite misgivings within the RBA that many banks, including the four majors, have under-invested in their NPP programs.

No major bank has completed its NPP rollout or given a clear indication on when they expect all of their digital transaction banking services to be NPP-enabled.

Commonwealth Bank was one of the first banks to add NPP functionality to its mobile banking app, but has been rather cryptic in its messaging over the last 18 months on when it will load the same services to its internet banking site.

The delay has led some customers to suspect that CBA gave preference to the mobile rollout as a ruse to induce more customers to adopt its app.

A CBA spokesperson denied the claim.

“As the majority of our customers actively use the CommBank app, our initial rollout of NPP features was to this banking channel,” the spokesperson said.

“Additional functionality will continue to be enabled in the coming months, including payments from NetBank.”

The spokesperson refused to comment on whether “coming months” meant that Osko and NPP-dependent services would be added to internet banking before the end of the year.

Westpac said it was progressively adding PayID and Osko services to customers of its regional banking subsidiaries – St George, Bank of Melbourne and Bank SA.

However, a spokesperson could not say when these rollouts were likely to be completed.