Reserve Bank of Australia helping agencies access new payment features

Using the RBA's API gateway, government agencies can improve their own payment functions.
Written by Aimee Chanthadavong, Contributor

While the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) plays a significant role in the country's financial trading market, it is also a bank for all Australian government agencies.

And like other major banks, the RBA realised it needed to be "effective, efficient, and have great customer service, and obviously, provide value-add services to aid agencies to deliver on their services to the Australian public," according to RBA banking technology senior manager David Zufic.

Speaking as part of Mulesoft Connect Digital 2020, Zufic explained how in realising its role, the RBA underwent a five-year transformation program that was broken down into three parts.

The first focused on modernising and carrying out a full data migration of its 29 mainframe applications, each of which were 30-years old. According to Zufic, the ageing mainframe slowed the RBA's ability to react, integrate, and provide new services.

"We had a very high bar of the zero-customer impact or change requirements, so we had to deal with all the idiosyncrasies of those 30 years of customisation and reverse engineer to manage that," he said.

The other part of the program was getting ready for the launch of the New Payments Platform (NPP), which went live in February 2018.

The platform allows for the transfer of money from one person to another in near real-time, using an email address or phone number rather than the traditional BSB or account number process.

Zufic added that through the program, the RBA also realised there was a need to establish a cloud-based API gateway to allow other government agencies to access its new features and functionalities, so they could improve their own systems.

He explained how in developing this, the bank issued a request for tender, seeking a provider that could develop an API gateway that was secure, cloud-based, and approved and certified by the Australian Signals Directorate. 

"There was no legacy associated with this, so you get one chance, you set it up right, and so it was critical that we took that into consideration," Zufic said.

The RBA settled with Mulesoft as its integration provider.

The pair worked together to expose RBA's internal web services to enable real-time services to validate BPay biller codes and CRNs, deliver open banking requirements, and enable agencies to access to NPP real-time payment instructions and enquiries.

Zufic highlighted how, for instance, exposing the APIs for NPP meant agencies could quickly deliver emergency payments.

"Traditionally [emergency payments] would be done over three days or it could be a cheque. But people in need are waiting for this and having this financial stress on top of their personal stress, but now they're on the phone or in the service centre of the agency, and in real-time before they've left, the money is in their account," he said.

Looking ahead, Zufic said the RBA would look to expand its published API library in a further push to assist its customers.

"We're now looking through our functional stack … to build out that external API library in a prioritised way," he said.

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