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Australia Tightens Grip on Digital Payments with New Regulatory Framework

In a move to keep pace with the evolving digital payments landscape, the Australian government has announced plans to introduce legislation that will bring prominent digital wallet providers like Apple Pay and Google Pay under the same regulatory umbrella as traditional payment methods such as credit cards. This decision marks a significant step towards ensuring a level playing field and fostering greater competition within the Australian payments ecosystem.

The proposed legislation, which is expected to be introduced to parliament this week, will empower the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) to extend its oversight to encompass new and emerging payment technologies. This expansion of regulatory authority aims to address the growing popularity of digital wallets, which have witnessed a surge in adoption, particularly among younger generations.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers, in a statement, emphasized the government's commitment to modernizing Australia's payments system, ensuring it remains agile and adaptable to meet the evolving needs of the economy. He further underscored the importance of fostering an environment that promotes competition, innovation, and productivity within the payments sector.

The impending legislation comes as regulators grapple with the rapid growth of digital wallets, particularly among the youth demographic. Transactions from digital wallets have skyrocketed, accounting for 35% of all card transactions in the June quarter of 2023, compared to a mere 10% in early 2020. This surge in adoption underscores the need for robust regulatory oversight to ensure consumer protection and promote responsible innovation.

In addition to bringing digital wallets under the RBA's purview, the proposed amendments will also grant the relevant minister the authority to impose special oversight measures on any system or platform deemed to pose a "national significance" risk. This provision empowers the government to safeguard the stability and integrity of the payments system by proactively addressing potential threats.


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