APCA's History


APCA was incorporated on 18 February 1992, but traces its history back through earlier reform processes.

Government inquiries into the financial system (Campbell in 1981 and Martin in 1983) made recommendation for reforms to the payments system. Among other issues, the inquiries called for a more level playing field for participants in payments clearing.

The reform process was initiated by the Australian Bankers’ Association in the mid 1980s and then, beginning in the late 1980s, progressed by the Reform of the Clearing System Steering Committee (ROCS) chaired by the Reserve Bank.

The deliberations of ROCS led to the establishment of APCA in 1992 as a self-regulatory industry body charged with carrying forward the process of reform.

In its early years, APCA focused on re-grouping payment services into distinct clearing systems and developing and managing rules and procedures for their day-to-day operation. In its next phase, APCA took responsibility for managing projects and for contingency planning, certification and accreditation. These kinds of activities remain core business for APCA.

In more recent years, APCA’s role has evolved to include strategic direction and regulatory policy for the Australian payments system.

Over APCA’s history, Australia's payment systems have grown to be highly efficient, reliable and safe. The time line below charts some of the developments.

  • APCA is incorporated on 18 February.

  • The Australian Paper Clearing System (APCS) is established in December.

  • Associate Members are invited to join APCA.

    The Bulk Electronic Clearing System (BECS) is established in December.

    APCA hosts the 13th Payment Systems International Conference in Sydney.

  • APCA reviews standards and specifications for cheque printing.

    Electronic links are implemented in BECS to automate direct entry file exchanges.

  • APCA lodges rules for the Consumer Electronic Clearing System with the ACCC.

    Tier1B membership is introduced in APCS.

  • The High Value Clearing System (HVCS) commences operations in August.

    Implementation of SWIFT's FIN-Copy service for payments delivery to the RTGS.

    Credit unions commence participation in direct debits in BECS.

  • The APCA Board approves recommendations for widening APCA's membership.

    The CECS Manual covering standards for ATM and EFTPOS is completed.

    New accreditation arrangements are introduced for MICR printing in APCS.

  • Advisory Councils are established for APCS, BECS and CECS.

    Electronic presentment and dishonour of cheques is implemented.

  • The Consumer Electronic Clearing System (CECS) is established in December.

    CECS Membership is extended to retailers that switch EFTPOS transactions.

  • The Australian Cash Distribution and Exchange System is established in August.

    Standard Inter-Organisation Compensation Rules are released.

    HVCS rules are amended to allow CLS Bank to become a member.

  • APCA adopts a new constitution to increase its ability to admit new members.

    CECS membership is extended to non-financial institution Cashcard Australia Limited.

    APCA makes changes to direct debit rules to improve consumer safeguards.

  • BECS rules are reviewed to cover direct debit requests made over the internet.

    Workshops held for printers and members on cheque printer approval procedures.

    APCA's role in assisting members to combat payments fraud is broadened.

  • APCS membership is opened to bring it into line with the new constitution.

    Two discretionary seats are provided for on each management committee.

    APCA hosts the first meeting of the International Council of Payment Association Chief Executives (ICPACE) in August.

  • BECS membership is opened and first non-financial institution organisation admitted.

    New failure to settle rules (FTS) are implemented.

    New arrangements introduced for device evaluations in CECS.

  • New CEO appointed - the first change of CEO since APCA established.

    EFTPOS Access Australia Limited established to improve access to CECS.

    Billers given flexibility to accept direct debit requests by telephone.

  • APCA publishes payments fraud data to help protect Australians against fraud.

    Membership of the High Value Clearing System is opened.

    New BECS members no longer required to establish bilateral agreements with all existing members.

  • APCA advocates strongly for greater industry self-governance.

    Work on an account switching facilitation package commences.

    Wide consultation on the future evolution of low value payments.

    The Chip Payments Programme for Australia is established.

  • Direct charging introduced at ATMs across Australia.

    Low Value Payments Roadmap released.

    EFTPOS Payments Australia Limited established to promote the debit card system.

    Card Payments Forum established.

    Established the Access Code and new company – ATM Access Australia Limited.

    Implemented the Account Switching Facilitation Package.

  • The industry COIN – APCA's first infrastructure system – established.

    Launched the "Protect Your PIN" campaign to increase consumer awareness.

    Released guidelines for merchants on EFTPOS terminal security.

    CECS New Entrant Pack developed to facilitate access to the cards system.

  • Extensive public consultation conducted on the future role of cheques in Australia.

    The "Safeguard Against Skimming" campaign for retailers is launched in March.

    The APCA Stakeholder Forum is established and first meeting held in June.

    Released an industry Code of Conduct for managing the risk of retail runs.

    The CECS rules are split to facilitate members' compliance with ePAL's operating rules for eftpos transactions.

  • APCA celebrates its 20th Anniversary.

    Migration to the Common Payments Network completed.

    Release of a non-binding ISO 20022 schema for Australian payments.

    Implemented the new account switching arrangements launched on 1 July.

    Launched the award winning “Get Smart About Card Fraud Online” to help retailers protect against fraud.

    Released the outcomes of the public consultation on cheques.

  • Released two Milestones Reports on the move from cheques to the digital economy.

    APCA and the RBA initiate a joint consultation on the Australian Payments Council.

    Began work on an industry-wide program to develop a New Payments Platform.

    APCA Board and members vote in favour of major reforms to APCA’s constitution.

    Introduced same-day settlement for direct debit and direct credit payments

  • APCA adopts a new Constitution in January 2014

    Supported the NPP Program including through the system
    development tender process

    Jointly with the RBA, established the Australian Payments Council

    Released Milestones Reports and a landmark study on cash use

    Made industry submissions including to the Financial System Inquiry

    Produced a new publication on payments fraud in Australia

  • Formed a new independent company, NPP Australia, to oversee the build and operation of the New Payments Platform.

    Made formal submissions on the future of Australia’s financial system

    Introduced digital clearing to Australia’s cheque system.

    Set-up the Issuers and Acquirers Community.

    Released consumer awareness documents including the Milestones Report.

    Established the Australian Payments Council and supported its work in developing the Australian Payments Plan.