QR codes could unlock lower-cost payments, says RBA

The Reserve Bank has flagged QR code-enabled transactions and other innovative payment technologies to trim the cost of paying for things.

A senior RBA official wants to unleash a wave of innovation in the retail payments sector to drive down fees for small businesses and consumers.

In a speech to the Australian Financial Review’s Banking Summit, RBA head of payments policy Ellis Connolly said other countries in the region were already experimenting with non-card electronic retail payment systems.

In countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia, merchants can provide QR codes that their customers use to pay by transferring from their bank accounts via fast payment systems.

QR codes are scannable images that can be read by smartphone cameras to unlock the information.

Mr Connolly said a comparable technology already in use in Australia could unlock similar levels of innovation.

Known as New Payments Platform “PayTo”, the service allows for safe transactions from bank accounts and can be paired with QR codes to enable convenient, low-cost transactions.

Introduced to Australia mid-last year, he said the payment service was yet to take off but use by the major banks should deliver the critical mass needed for the service to flourish.

Late last year, the RBA and the federal government flagged reforms to level the playing field for new payment technologies.

The reforms included updating payment system laws and developing a new strategic plan for Australia’s payments system.

While the costs incurred by businesses to process payments have been tracking lower, some forces are working in the opposite direction, including the shift to online shopping.

This exposes merchants to higher payment costs.


Poppy Johnston
(Australian Associated Press)


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