Services Australia New Payments Platform

SYPAQ’s skilled team of developers, testers and analysts helped to integrate the New Payments Platform (NPP) technology into the Government’s complex legacy welfare payments system.

The Reserve Bank of Australia’s (RBA) report ‘Conclusions of the Strategic Review of Innovation in the Payment System’ heralded the development of the NPP. Designed to deliver payments more effectively, the NPP is available 24/7, ensures that payments are received immediately, allows more information to provided with payments and uses a simpler ‘alias’ addressing technique (e.g. mobile phone numbers) for payments.

SYPAQ’s multidisciplinary team of developers, testers and business analysts was co-located within the Services Australia (formerly Department of Human Services) NPP Teams, and played leading roles in project management, business unit coordination, analysis, design, development, testing and implementation. SYPAQ also provided technical support to external parties involved in the pilot and will continue with ongoing support and future developments of the NPP.
The existing methods of transfer for Services Australia payments were Direct Credit transfer, pre-paid cash cards and banks’ real-time gross settlement (RTGS) facilities. When compared to the NPP, the current payment methods incurred either a cost or time penalty. For example, Direct Credit to a customer’s bank account is an overnight process, and the RTGS process is only available within AEST banking hours (greatly reducing available hours in Western Australia) and takes place at approximately 15-minute intervals. Pre-paid cards must be collected in person at service centres and are unable to be used in EFTPOS terminals; the customer must withdraw the cash at an ATM.

SYPAQ was charged with integrating the NPP technology into the highly complex current legacy welfare payments IT systems infrastructure.

Key stakeholders of this development were; the Services Australia Business Design and Development Team, the RBA, third-party financial institutions and the Services Australia Payments IT, Web Infrastructure, Internet Gateway and internal Testing Teams. (Are these capitalised correctly?)

This multi-disciplinary effort was coordinated throughout its development by the SYPAQ lead working within the Services Australia Payments IT team. A key factor to the success of the project was a collaborative approach to documenting requirements and specifications involving all partners and early testing of completed components, enabling the provision of feedback to developers.

The SYPAQ team embedded within the Services Australia IT internal team led the solution development effort covering all phases from system design and specification, technical specification, code development, unit testing, integration testing with the external parties, coordination of all system and pre-production testing and the final implementation.
Following a brief period of pilot running – limiting availability to restricted hours – the NPP was made available to all customer-facing service operators in early December 2018.
SYPAQ’s in-depth understanding of the Services Australia core system and the business processes that it supports enabled the allocation of key roles to SYPAQ consultants. The pilot was delivered on time and within budget.

NPP launched in 2018, and now facilitates near real-time transfers between accounts in participating banks, unrestricted by normal bank operating hours. The average time for an NPP payment to reach a customer’s account is two seconds.
At a cost to the department of less than 10c per transaction, NPP represents a saving of 98% over the cost of pre-paid cash cards and 94% over the cost of RTGS transfers.
The success of the pilot has led to wider interest within government departments about the potential to exploit this technology.