Australia Post has announced they will close the domestic operations of POLi Payments at the end of September this year.
While POLi will still be available in New Zealand, Australian customers will no longer be able to use the payment method as a way to make payments to pay for various goods and services.
POLi is a payment method where customers can pay directly using their bank account. It’s a free service to make quick and easy payments, acting as a middleman between your bank account and the merchant instead of using your debit or credit card.
When it first began in 2006, POLi was one of the first Australian fintechs to offer customers real-time transaction services by linking their online bank accounts to the platform. But over the years, as financial crime has become more sophisticated, many institutions have introduced enhanced software that’s incompatible with traditional POLi vectors.
These changes led to uncertainty regarding whether POLi customers would be protected if affected by online scams.
The service was frowned upon by some customers and financial institutions because it asked users to share their bank account login credentials to use the platform.
While many Australian banks didn’t prevent customers from sharing their details, most began issuing warnings that it was a potential breach of the bank’s electronic service terms and conditions. Many banks also recommended their customers to avoid the service due to security concerns.
In July, the Commonwealth Bank announced they would no longer accept POLi vector payments due to their concerns with the service. Instead, the bank encouraged its customers to make all their online payments via their NetBank site.
It appears the security concerns by major banks did play a factor in Australia Post’s decision to close their Australian operations of the service. POLi’s general manager, Susan Nicholson, indicated that reduced acceptance of the platform by three of Australia’s four major banks did change the viability of the business.
POLi’s business design has also been challenged by the introduction of new digital payment platforms by many Australian banks in recent years. Nicholson stated that POLi was no longer able to compete with the fast-paced innovation of large multinational banks and financial institutions.
Although Australians will no longer be able to use POLi for any payments, it will still be available in New Zealand. Merco Limited, founded in 2009, has acquired local service ownership. They will be responsible for all support, sales and marketing of the POLi system in NZ and have retained the experienced local development team to ensure operations can continue uninterrupted.
The group also plans to introduce a range of new services for New Zealand customers, with details to be announced.
A spokesperson for Australia Post said that the group is working closely with Merco regarding the continuation of service and operations for New Zealand customers.
While POLi is planned to continue to operate as normal in New Zealand, banking experts expect NZ banks to share similar concerns as Australia in the long term. Although POLi is used by big retailers and some government departments, banks have also raised concerns over the years about the system, which has been operating in New Zealand since 2008.
Like Australian banks, NZ banks also advise customers not to click on links asking them to log in and to avoid services asking for banking credentials to protect themselves and their personal details.
For now, any Australian POLi customers are being referred to alternative payment providers, such as Azupay, Monoova and Zepto.
POLi, “Online payments your customers can trust”, https://www.polipay.co.nz/
IT News, “Australia Post to close POLi Payments”, https://www.itnews.com.au/news/australia-post-to-close-poli-payments-597950
Banking Day, “Demise of AusPost's payments arm likely to trigger surcharging headache for Qantas”, https://www.bankingday.com/demise-of-poli-headache-for-qantas
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