Citi, ME Bank and BoQ eye 2020 for NPP rollouts

George Lekakis Payments, mobile & wallets

The number of banks flagging more delays to delivery of instant payment services has swelled, with Bank of Queensland, Citigroup Australia and ME Bank each confirming they would not begin connecting customers to the New Payments Platform until at least the end of the year.

In their responses to questions from Banking Day the three mid-tier banks could not identify the types of NPP-linked services they planned to introduce before the end of December.

The terse disclosures from each bank indicates their incremental roll-outs are bound to stretch deep into 2020.

Following the Reserve Bank’s recent castigation of the banking sector for its torpid efforts to deliver real time payments to Australian consumers and businesses, many banks seem reluctant to discuss issues arising from their tardy development programs.

Moreover, none of the industry’s laggards is willing to explain why their NPP programs are late.

While the four major banks have faced public shaming from politicians and central bank officials for dragging the chain on implementation, other key NPP participants such as Citigroup Australia have managed to avoid scrutiny.

Citi refuses to comment on why it has not been able to bring any NPP-related services to market since the NPP was launched in February 2018, but says it is standing by a trifling pledge to “commence” a rollout before the end of December.

Beyond that airy commitment the bank is keeping silent about the types of real time payments services it might provide customers this year.

Bank of Queensland said last September that it intended to launch NPP services before the end of 2018, but it was never a realistic chance to do that.

In an email response to questions from Banking Day, a BoQ spokesperson on Wednesday indicated the bank was still mulling over its “implementation plans” and would not give any guidance for when the roll-outs to mobile and internet banking customers might begin.

“BOQ is currently working through our plans for implementation of the New Payments Platform and remains committed to delivering enhanced customer solutions.”

The industry’s taste for minimal disclosure is also alive at ME Bank where the prospects for instant payments appear to have only inched forward since the company announced in September last year that it would “take all the time we need to get the design right”.

An ME spokesperson yesterday said a work program was underway but avoided sharing target dates for delivery of PayID, Osko and other NPP-linked services to customers.

“I can tell you work on NPP is currently taking place and we will start enabling services this financial year, across mobile and internet banking,” the ME spokesperson said.

ME’s financial year began on 1 July, which means the bank might only start delivering early traces of NPP functionality in June 2020.

Confirmation that BoQ, ME and Citi are struggling to complete their projects follows similar disclosures earlier this week from other banks.

On Tuesday, AMP Bank and HSBC Australia said their customers would not have access to Osko or any other NPP-based functionality until 2020.

It is not clear whether any of the industry’s laggards might be sanctioned for taking so long to bring their offerings to market.

NPP Australia is currently putting in place a new penalties regime for banks that fail to meet mandatory standards or deliver services within prescribed timeframes.

The regime will not take effect for several months, which means industry stragglers might be free to buy even more time before mandated deadlines could be imposed on their rollout programs.