Eftpos invites new payments competition with network infrastructure upgrade

The new technology is expected to increase transaction speed and invite new competition to the payments market in Australia.

Eftpos has announced the completion of its industry-wide technology infrastructure transformation program.

According to the payments giant, its new centralised payments hub -- which has just processed its two billionth transaction -- is expected to support the rollout of new Eftpos products and services, such as "Tap & Pay" and mobile pay.

In a statement, Eftpos managing director Bruce Mansfield said the centralised payments hub provides the national, cost-effective, and secure infrastructure the industry needs to be ready for the future.

"The completion of the Eftpos hub network is a great achievement for the industry and our partners. It represents a significant piece of secure and reliable infrastructure that can bring payments innovation, cost-effective processing, and healthy competition to new areas in the Australian market faster and more efficiently," Mansfield said.

"The network is a triumph for industry collaboration, and will provide Australia with mission-critical payments infrastructure for many years to come."

Eftpos Tap & Pay and Eftpos Mobile are the first products to launch, to be followed by new services to assist rapid change in the industry, Mansfield explained.

Secure Eftpos mobile payments will also be enabled with the company's TSP tokenisation service, replacing the card number with a unique digital identifier known as a payment token.

It is expected that the onshore token technology will also be leveraged by the industry to secure non-payments services in the future.

The national point-of-sale terminal upgrade for both Eftpos Tap & Pay for cards and Eftpos Mobile already covers more than 70 percent of terminals and most major merchants, with the company expecting completion by the rest of the industry before the end of the year.

New Eftpos-only Tap & Pay cards will be replacing the magnetic stripe Eftpos cards that have been in circulation since the mid-'80s.

The newly completed Eftpos hub network is already being used by the industry, with over 70 percent of terminals, most major merchants, and five large banks using Eftpos to process ATM transactions, in addition to Eftpos cheque and savings transactions at point of sale.

Eftpos said Australia's major banks will be moving ATM transactions to the new hub.

The company said it will also be focusing on bricks-and-mortar merchants by supporting them to take their business digital through services such as merchant and browser applications.

More than 1 million Eftpos Tap & Pay cards have been issued by Australian financial institutions, with Eftpos expecting that number to reach over 3 million cards by the end of 2017.

The company said its network processed more than 2.2 billion cheque and savings transactions in 2016, worth over AU$138 billion.

Eftpos upgraded its centralised payment hub in late 2014, enabling banks to make centralised upgrades to the network, which supported the initial rollout of payment technologies such as online, contactless, and mobile.

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) is also preparing its new payments platform, with RBA Governor Philip Lowe saying in February his organisation's work on building the infrastructure behind the platform is on schedule for rollout by the end of the year.

The new payments platform will allow for near real-time funds transfer between bank accounts, regardless of who people bank with. All a user will require to perform an "instantaneous payment" with the forthcoming system will be the recipient's email address or mobile phone number.

The payments project is a cooperative effort between the bank and the payments industry to modernise key parts of our electronic payments system, which has been actioned under the guidance of the RBA's Payments System Board.

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