Government departments, including those charged with delivering policies and programs related to the current COVID-19 crisis, can better respond to emergencies with the ability to access urgent funding during business hours or on weekends.
This milestone follows the successful implementation of a Department of Finance project called Project NeRF, focused on using the NPP to modernise Commonwealth cash management. The project is being delivered in partnership with the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) and Authorised Deposit-taking Institutions (ADIs) from the banking sector.
Stephanie Connors, Deputy Head of the Banking Department at the Reserve Bank of Australia, said the NPP means an end to restrictions inherent in older payments infrastructure.
“Historically, the design of the system, circa 1999, meant that if a government agency required funding in order to make payments, they would need to request a drawdown of funds by 2pm on the business day before payments were due to ensure the money was in their bank account at 9am on the payment date. An urgent same day request for funds was only available once per day via RTGS,” said Ms Connors.
“Now funding can be approved and paid immediately on any day of the week, which means government agencies can better respond to emergencies, such as the need to pay for medical supplies,” she said.
This is the second major program of work to leverage the NPP since its launch more than two years ago. An earlier program delivered real-time payments capability to Services Australia, assisting it to make emergency welfare and disaster payments within seconds of a claim being approved. As part of this, the NPP has been used to successfully deliver payments to victims of the devastating summer bushfires.
The RBA has also recently implemented a 24/7 core banking system and introduced new API gateway services.
“These capabilities, together with the development of the NPP, means we are able to fully integrate with government back office systems to enable initiation of real-time payments. The new technologies and 24/7 capabilities that we’ve introduced have opened the door to digital payment solutions ensuring the government can meet the growing expectations of the community around reliability and speed of payments” Ms Connors said.
The RBA recently received the inaugural Paul Shetler IT News award for delivery of these end-to-end payment capabilities.
“We involved our government customers early in the NPP journey to ensure they were thinking about how the government could leverage the many benefits NPP offers. This enabled them to include NPP payments as part of their systems development roadmaps. We were very excited to see these initiatives come to life and look forward to seeing more in the future,” Ms Connors said.