We have searched around the globe to find you all the latest news on payments.

What the banks have been up to:

Australia's small business ombudsman Kate Carnell has called for banking services to be classed as 'an essential service' in a submission to the ongoing royal commission into the banking sector. It comes after four big banks made the decision to send services with more than 100 customers offering remittance services through Western Union.

"If we move to a system where our electricity providers and telecommunications providers were able to decide who the good and bad guys are, you end up in a pretty ordinary spot," she said.
 
On The Productivity Commission's review of the finance sector, pressure is being applied on the Federal Government to launch one of the world’s first open-data financial systems.

This model would allow customers to trade their consumer data so companies can offer better deals. A report on how this model would work was due at the end of 2017 but has yet to be released.

"The government is considering the report and will be looking to release and respond shortly," a spokeswoman for Treasurer Scott Morrison said.

RBA

The recent global market crash did not sway the RBA to change the record low interest rate in Australia. Australian shares shed more than 200 points in February. But consumer spending remains the main concern for the RBA which maintained the current interest rate at 1.5 per cent.

"One continuing source of uncertainty is the outlook for household consumption," RBA governor Philip Lowe said.

"Household incomes are growing slowly and debt levels are high."
 
The RBA has unveiled the new $50 note. It includes new security features to combat counterfeiting and bumps on each side to assist the vision impaired. It will be released into circulation in October.
 

Mobile Commerce:

Your voice will be the latest security measure to combat fraud in mobile banking. ANZ became the first major bank to launch voice biometric security in September, 2017 with voice authentication required for transfers over $1000.

Other banks have started using voice recognition for process like checking bank balances, with voice activated security measures likely to follow suit.

Research is indicating the social media payments will take off in 2018, with Apple, Facebook, Google to launch payments through the platforms.

Juniper Research conducted the study, which shows that registered mobile domestic money transfer users is expected to rise to 2.5 billion in 2018, up from 1.7 billion in 2016.

"It was inevitable that players such as Apple would follow in the footsteps of WeChat Pay and AliPay, and offer a universal set of payment features integrating P2P, alongside existing contactless and ticketing functionalities," research author Nitin Bhas said.

Other electronic commerce

Businesses can now send invoices through social media with the mobile application Invoice2Go. The app allows invoices to be sent through SMS, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and other mobile apps to assist in a world where more and more people are turning away from traditional email.

Invoice2Go believe that people in the modern world will only check their email once or twice a week, but will always respond to alerts from social media apps and SMS.

This should translate to faster payments for business.
 

Distributed ledger technology:

Google is set to streamline all of its existing payment technologies under a new Google Pay brand. This means services like Android Pay and Google Wallet would all come under the same umbrella, vice president of product management for payments Pali Bhat said.

"With Google Pay, it’ll be easier for you to use the payment information saved to your Google account, so you can speed through checkout with peace of mind," he said.

Google Pay is already listed on some vendor websites, sometimes under the name G Pay.
 
Australian cryptocurrency exchange BTC Markets will not be reintroducing POLi as a payment option for its consumers, but it will look to connect with the New Payments Platform.

BTC Markets dropped POLi support in early January and confirmed it would not be resurrecting the platform as a payment option.

"We have no plans to reintroduce POLi however we are evaluating NPP," BTC Markets said in a Twitter statement.
 
While all of the recent attention on cryptocurrencies has been surrounding the dip in Bitcoin's value, experts claim it masks the real value of virtual currencies. BTC has dropped from $US20,000 in December to just over $9000 in February.

But Deutsche Bank's Markus Mueller said the technology that underpinned BTC and other digital currencies, blockchain, still had the enormous potential to disrupt the banking sector and change the way we make payments.

He envisages a day where payments are made using digital currency without the need for banks at all.

Other items of Interest:

The Australian fintech industry is calling on the Federal Government to speed up legislation allowing the adoption of crowdfunding for private companies.

The legislation was introduced in parliament late last year, but has not progressed since.
FinTech Australia chair Stuart Stoyan called for MPs to prioritise the bill to give SMEs the funds they need to grow.
 
Bank cheques are set to be extinct by 2019. The old school method of payment has experienced a rapid decline in the digital age, dropping from 45,900 processed cheques in Australia in 2002 to an estimated 3000 in 2018.
 
Cheques aren't the only endangered species, with a study showing that bank notes may be obsolete in the next five years.
Market analyst East & Partners revealed that physical cash made up just 10 per cent of all payments to Australian merchants as of April 2017. This trend is likely to see cash payments drop below 2 per cent in 2022, effectively making Australia a cashless society.
This article represents the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of BPAY.
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