Australian Treasury proposes draft legislation to regulate digital wallet providers

The Australian Treasury has released draft legislation for public consultation that would give the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) regulatory powers over digital wallet providers including Apple Pay and Google Wallet.

TREASURER: Jim Chalmers

The proposed amendments to the country’s Payment Systems (Regulation) Act 1998 would also enable the RBA to regulate other “new and emerging payments systems” including buy now pay later (BNPL) services and platforms facilitating transactions made using crypto assets including stablecoins.

The Australian Government is introducing the proposed legislation in order to address “the risks posed by new digital payment services, which are currently unregulated, to protect consumers, promote competition and spur innovation,” according to a statement by Australian Treasurer Jim Chalmers.

“The draft legislation released today for public consultation will amend the Payment Systems (Regulation) Act 1998 to update the definition of ‘payment’ and ‘payments systems’ to capture new payment methods that are widely used today, as well as those that may emerge in the future.

“The amendments will:

  • ensure the Reserve Bank of Australia can regulate new and emerging payments systems, such as digital wallet providers, and
  • introduce a new Ministerial designation power that would allow particular payments services or platforms that present risks of national significance to be subject to additional oversight by regulators.

“The legislation is expected to be introduced to parliament this year.”

The Treasury released an earlier draft of the proposed legislation for public consultation in June when both Apple and Google submitted documents contesting the inclusion of digital wallets in the amended definition of payment systems that would be subject to RBA regulation.

The current public consultation for the updated draft legislation runs until 1 November. An Australian public hearing considered the case for regulatory controls to ensure payment apps get access to smartphone NFC technology in July 2021.

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