Monday, 09 August 2021 00:17

ACCC seeks payments industry views on proposed undertaking for BPAY, eftpos, NPPA merger Featured

By Staff Writer

The competition regulator and enforcement agency the ACCC is seeking views on a court enforceable undertaking which has been offered by Industry Committee Administration (ICA), the company representing three Australian payment services providers seeking to merge.

BPAY Group Holding and its subsidiaries, eftpos Payments Australia and New Payments Platform Australia (NPPA) provide payment services to consumers and businesses through their respective payment systems BPAY, eftpos and the New Payments Platform - and in March of this year ICA applied to the ACCC for authorisation for a merger of the three companies.

BPAY, eftpos and NPPA are providers of payment services, and each own and operate payments infrastructure. BPAY’s core service facilitates bill payments. eftpos’ core service facilitates retail debit card payments and NPPA’s core service facilitates fast account-to-account payments.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) says the proposed court enforceable undertaking will cover Australian Payments Plus Ltd, or AP+, the new company that has been created for the merger.

The proposed undertaking seeks to address concerns by industry participants that the proposed merger could result in a reduction in investment and support for eftpos, and a decrease in the availability of least-cost routing (LCR).

“eftpos plays an important role in maintaining competition in the routing of debit card payments, which are an important part of Australia’s payment landscape,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said.

“We are interested in the views of merchants and other industry participants on how this undertaking would impact competition in payment services.”

The proposed undertaking includes obligations that the new company created for the merger, AP+, will:

  a) ensure that eftpos will do everything in its control to make LCR available for three years;

  b) ensure the eftpos payments scheme and the eftpos card-based issuing and acceptance infrastructure and services are maintained for three years;

  c) ensure that eftpos and NPPA develop and make available a set of Prescribed Services within agreed timeframes; and

  d) ensure that BPAY, eftpos and NPPA agree an industry wide standard supporting payment with QR codes by the end of June 2022.

“The obligations in the undertaking are intended to help ensure that eftpos will develop and improve its debit-based payment services for point of sale, online and in-app payments, and person-to-person payments,” Sims said.

Sims said AP+ will also submit a report to the ACCC every six months to demonstrate its compliance.

The full proposed undertaking can be found on the ACCC’s public register page: Proposed amalgamation of BPAY, eftpos and NPPA and interested parties can provide their views to mergerauthorisations@accc.gov.au">mergerauthorisations@accc.gov.au link sends e-mail) until 5pm AEST on 17 August 2021.

Under its authority the ACCC may grant authorisation for a proposed merger if it is satisfied the merger is not likely to substantially lessen competition, or where the likely public benefits outweigh the likely public detriments.

The ACCC says that the merger authorisation provides an alternative avenue for merger clearance to the informal merger review process, which is the most common avenue used by merger parties.

The authorisation process is public and if merger authorisation is granted, merger parties are exempt from the merger laws.

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