Dateline: 2111

Once upon a time (in 1911) the Australian Government founded the Commonwealth Bank of Australia “to promote land settlement and rural development”.

national-payment-gateway-of-australiaIn 2011 (exactly 100 years later) the Australian Government established the National Payment Gateway of Australia (NPGA).

The NPGA was established with a very simple mandate: help Australian business participate in the global economy through an accessible, reliable and secure payment gateway and thereby promote online development for Australia.

The NPGA meant that Australian businesses could manage payments from and to any other country in the world just as easily as they could manage payments within Australia. With research and development on payment gateways being driven by larger economies, Australia had been at a disadvantage. Not just because of slower access to the Internet than competitors, but through complex, limited access to global payments compared to business in other countries.

Coupled with the rollout of an expanded national broadband service, the NPGA meant Australian business was not only able to connect to the global marketplace but was able to transact with the rest of the world on a level playing field.

The availability of a simple payment system with a security guarantee from the Australian government (just like the financial guarantee supplied to the Commonwealth Bank a century previously) meant Australian business was able to grow confidently online.

Editor: with the benefit of hindsight it is perhaps easy to say this was just common sense. But a decision like this must have been much harder back then, with many commercial interests involved.