Real-time payments on banking horizon

Lengthy delays waiting for electronic payments to clear will soon be a thing of the past as the next generation of real-time payments becomes the norm across Australian banking institutions. 

Banking customers will soon say goodbye to lengthy delays when completing transactions across financial institutions and enjoy the speed and convenience of real-time payments.

A new centralised payments hub to control the processing of all debit payments is expected to remove delays of up to 48 hours when completing mobile or online banking transactions between customers at different institutions. 

Australian Payments and Clearing association chief executive, Chris Hamilton, says work has already begun on a new central payments hub which will allow customers to send and receive money within a few seconds.

"It's a piece of infrastructure that is going to be a way of very efficiently connecting authorised deposit-taking institutions in Australia," Hamilton says. "The idea is to connect so you can move money in a few quick ways between accounts, this new payment platform will allow that to happen in a very short space of time."

Hamilton says 17 banks including the big four and the Reserve Bank of Australia have already begun working on ways to build in the new infrastructure and determine the cost of implementation by 2016.

Moves are also being made to upgrade the current payments system so transactions appear within the same day or within a few hours. It's unclear how much the upgrade to instant transaction will cost and is likely to take several years to be introduced.

However the investment will pave the way for a range of other services including one that would potentially allows customers to transact using mobile phone numbers.

Tony Burke from the Australian Bankers Association says the new system comes as much needed upgrade. "today the bulk of payments are processed and settled over night, most transactions are completed the next working day, of not the same day but if a weekend intervened the payee may wait up the three days for the cleared funds."

the goal of money flowing in real time (or near real time) would be an important innovation for the Australian economy, removing delay caused risk , inconvenience and supporting further innovation.

For the moment the fastest and most flexible way to pay using your own money is through a Visa or Mastercard debit card. Till real time payments arrive, make the most of the convenience of a debit card, compare and apply for low (or no) fee debt cards online here.