BPAY Group, eftpos and New Payments Platform (NPP) Australia might join forces in some form to create a single, and better, payments platform for Australians. After several months of discussions with stakeholders, the board of NPP Australia decided to create an industry committee to investigate the benefits of merging these three Australian payments infrastructure.
In Australia, the total transaction value in the Digital Payments industry for the year 2020 is projected to reach AU$63,581 million. By 2024 the total transaction amount is expected to grow to AU$137,035 million at a CAGR of 21.2% . The decision follows the Reserve Bank of Australia’s review that asks platform providers to consider whether the alternate structural arrangements might be beneficial to the industry. The review pointed the UK and Singapore as jurisdictions that have undergone similar mergers recently.
More on the payments infrastructure’s industry committee
The committee set up to explore the possibilities of the merger would comprise of all 22 stakeholders across the three payments infrastructure providers. The industry committee would also consist of an independent chair. Bob McKinnon, NPP Australia Chairman, said that the intention of the committee formed will be to create an inclusive forum that can understand whether the consolidation of these 3 entities into one single entity might be the best decision.
He added that the goal of this committee will be to see if this merger is in the public interest and in the interests of the existing shareholders of the 3 entities. The board will also focus on the issues of ownership, corporate governance and better structure around the potential merger. The entire process expected to take between 6-9 months. This duration includes the time required to obtain all the requisite regulatory approvals (before any of the recommendations on the potential merger are finalised).
Stephen Benton, eftpos CEO, has welcomed the decision of establishing the industry committee. He says the collaboration of the 3 entities may have benefits such as speed to market, reduced investment and lesser operational and transaction costs.
John Banfield, BPAY Group CEO, also welcomed the opportunity to investigate the potential of the consolidation. The purpose of BPAY Group is to make life simpler. Banfield adds that the collaboration of the three entities could make life easier for Australian businesses, the industry and all Australians.
Why merge the three payments infrastructures?
McKinnon said the preliminary views of shareholders indicated that a merger like this could surely deliver more efficient, stronger and simpler domestic digital payments infrastructure. Additionally, he thinks that it would mean better services for consumers and businesses.
Potential benefits of the consolidation include achieving faster delivery of new payments functionality, better risk management, reduced acceptance costs and efficient deployment of capital. These benefits have been further accentuated by the pandemic that has accelerated acceptance towards digital payments. McKinnon said in a statement that it has also highlighted the need for targeted investment, reduced complexity and resilient systems.
While the three entities agree that there are advantages of merging forces, BPAY and eftpos argued why they might continue to be better off as standalone entities. Benton also listed substitutes of the merger such as including consolidation on core infrastructure assets while competing on transactions and pursuing to drive competition.
 Statista (2020) “Digital Payments report 2020” [Online] Available from: https://www.statista.com/outlook/296/107/digital-payments/australia [Accessed June 2020]
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