Australian Payments Clearing Association

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The Australian Payments Clearing Association (APCA) is the self-regulatory body set up by the payments industry to improve the safety, reliability, equity, convenience and efficiency of the Australian payments system. APCA administers a number of clearing and systems within Australia.[1] APCA currently has 90 members comprising the leading Australian financial institutions including banks, building societies and credit unions, major retailers and others involved in the Australian payment system.[2][3] APCA was established on 18 February 1992.

APCA sets, manages and develops regulations, procedures and standards governing payments clearing and settlement within Australia. Payments systems covered by APCA's rules include cheques, direct debits and deposits, electronic transactions, ATM and EFTPOS and high value payments.

APCA operates the clearing system for ATM and EFTPOS which is called Consumer Electronic Clearing System (CECS)[4] also called CS3. CECS required authorisations from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), which was obtained in 2001 and reaffirmed in 2009.[5] ATM and EFTPOS transactions are subject to individual bilateral arrangements between the institutions involved.[6]

APCA also regulates and manages the Bank State Branch Number (BSB) system in Australia. It is the official issuer and provider of BSB codes. APCA assigns the bank code to a financial institution and the financial institution allocates the other digits to its branches, in line with guidelines set by APCA.


"APCA exists to advance the common interest of its members and the interests of the Australian public in improving the Australian payments system."[7]

APCA's role is to manage and develop the Australian payments clearing system, so as to:

  • preserve the integrity of the system
  • identify and control settlement risk
  • improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the system
  • ensure principles of equity and competitive neutrality are applied in determining participation in the system
  • facilitate the co-ordination of payments clearing arrangements among providers of payment services
  • assist the community's understanding of the system and ensure that public debate is well informed
  • provide thought leadership and advocacy.


APCA was established on 18 February 1992 as part of the reorganisation and reform of the Australian payment system, starting with cheque and direct credits. APCA took over the regulation and management of the Bank State Branch Number (BSB) system, which had been in operation since the 1970s. In 2012, APCA celebrated its 20th anniversary as the payments industry’s self-regulatory body.[1]


APCA has been publishing cheque and card fraud statistics since November 2006 as part of the payment industry’s commitment to improve disclosure. Figures for the calendar year 2012 revealed that the total amount of fraud on Australian cheques and payment cards had dropped by 10% from the previous year. This is the first year on year drop since 2006 when APCA began publishing fraud statistics.[8]


In 2011, APCA began a public consultation period to gain feedback on the future role of cheques in Australia.[9] In May 2012 APCA released the final report from its consultation entitled "The Decline of Cheques: Building a Bridge to the Digital Economy", which summaries the outcomes of the consultation process.[10] The first "Milestones Report", tracking progress against the Recommendations and Commitments, was released in April 2013.[11]

In July 2013, APCA announced a new industry-wide program to develop a New Payments Platform for Australia.[12] The new platform for real-time low value payments is in response to the Payment System Board’s "Conclusions to the Strategic Review of the Innovation in Payments System" publication. APCA responded by forming a Real-Time Payments Committee who developed and lodged a system proposal with the Payments System Board. The Payments System Board welcomed the proposal at its February 2013 meeting.[13]


  1. ^ a b (23 February 2012). APCA marks 20 years of improving Australian payments. APCA media release]
  2. ^ APCA Members. APCA. Retrieved on 26 December 2012.
  3. ^ APCA Membership. Retrieved 8 July 2013
  4. ^ Cards and Accepting Devices. APCA. Retrieved on 26 December 2012.
  5. ^ ACCC reapproves membership rules for Consumer Electronic Clearing System. Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. Retrieved on 26 December 2012.
  6. ^ Alan L Tyree. Australian Payment System. Retrieved on 26 December 2012.
  7. ^ APCA Purpose and Role. Retrieved 8 July 2013
  8. ^ APCA Media Release - Payments Fraud in Australia Declines in 2012. Retrieved 8 July 2013.
  9. ^ "Should cheques be abolished?". SeniorAu. 11 June 2011. Retrieved 26 December 2012. 
  10. ^ The Decline of Cheques - Retrieved 8 July 2013.
  11. ^ Milestones Report - Retrieved 8 July 2013.
  12. ^ Industry wide program to develop the New Payments Platform gets underway. Retrieved 8 July 2013.
  13. ^ RBA Media Release - Industry Proposal for a Fast Payments Solution. Retrieved 8 July 2013

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