​Not enough IT specialists: RBA chief

The Reserve Bank of Australia's real-time payments systems will miss its 2017 deadline because it's struggling to find the right IT specialists to hire, and help complete the job.
Written by Aimee Chanthadavong, Contributor on

The launch of Australia's real-time payments system has been delayed as the Reserve Bank struggles to compete with the big four banks for IT specialists to set it up.

The head of the Reserve Bank said the system for business, public, and government agencies to make 24-hour real-time payments was making "pretty good progress" but would miss its 2017 deadline.

RBA governor Glenn Stevens said the big four banks were spending about AU$100 million each on their infrastructure systems and hiring the specialists targeted by the RBA, which is spending about AU$25 million.

"The market for the kind of IT skills you need to build payment systems seems to be pretty hot right now because you've got four big institutions and then some smaller ones like us dipping into that pool," he told the House of Representatives economics committee on Friday.

A Greythorn study from last year predicted that Australia would head into a "huge" skills shortage within the next five years. The survey said Australia was at risk of losing its IT professionals to the overseas market.

However, the most recent Skills Shortages Australia report by the Australian Department of Employment said there was no skills shortage in the ICT sector in Australia.

"Demand for ICT professionals is subdued and employers have little difficulty recruiting workers who meet their skill level expectations," the report said, also stating that competition from qualified applicants to available IT sector vacancies was "robust".

The RBA initially established a team of five to work on setting up its real-time payments system.

Work on the system officially began in February 2013 after it was approved by the RBA's Payment System Board.

Australian Payments Clearing Association (APCA) chief Chris Hamilton had predicted in November last year that when completed, the rollout and operation of the system would cost the local financial services industry in excess of AU$1 billion over a 12-year period.

"We estimate at this stage -- and obviously it depends on a great many factors to come -- that the total cost to the industry, and remember this is a 12-year contract with two years of build and 10 years of operation, would be upwards of AU$1 billion for the entire industry, spread across all of that work," he said at the time.

In conjunction to rolling out the real-time payment system, the RBA announced in July that it is looking to overhaul its entire core banking solution, which currently supports banking services to the Australian government and a number of customers.

The RBA said at the time that the decision behind the forthcoming overhaul is to help it deliver an improved banking service for its customers with a more contemporary architecture and programming platform.

The platform will be used to support payments systems that process in excess of 320 million payment and 25 million collection transactions per year, which are posted to customer accounts on an aggregate, as well as individual basis.

With AAP

Editorial standards