A Variation to the Access Regime for the ATM System: Conclusions – August 2012 5. Assessment

In making a determination on whether to vary the Access Regime under section 14 of the Payment Systems (Regulation) Act 1998 (the Act), the Bank must consider it appropriate to do so, having regard to:

  1. whether the variation would be in the public interest; and
  2. the interests of the current participants in the system; and
  3. the interests of people who, in the future, may want access to the system; and
  4. any other matters the Reserve Bank considers relevant.

Section 8 of the Act sets out that in determining whether a particular action is in the public interest, the Bank is to have regard to the desirability of payment systems:

  1. being (in its opinion):
    1. financially safe for use by participants; and
    2. efficient; and
    3. competitive; and
  2. not (in its opinion) materially causing or contributing to increased risk to the financial system.

The Reserve Bank may have regard to other matters that it considers are relevant, but is not required to do so.

After taking into consideration the views expressed during consultation, the Board has concluded that varying the Access Regime to extend the exemption power in the manner outlined above is appropriate. Such a variation would be in the public interest, given that it would provide the Bank with additional flexibility to facilitate arrangements in the public interest should it be required and should the Bank consider it appropriate. It is unlikely that the proposed variation would result in any detriment in terms of the public interest or the interests of current or prospective members of the system, given that the Bank would still be required to have regard to the same factors in granting an exemption under the extended power as in varying the Access Regime.

The variation would make the process of dealing with special cases that are consistent with the intent of the Access Regime more streamlined. The alternative means of facilitating such arrangements would be to vary the Access Regime on a case-by-case basis, which would be administratively burdensome and would delay any outcome. However, unlike varying the Access Regime, granting an exemption under the extended power would not require public consultation nor publication in the Gazette. In the Bank's view, exemptions that may be granted under the extended power are expected to be of a sufficiently minor nature that public consultation would add little benefit, but the Bank will stand ready to consult if it considers that consultation would be likely to contribute materially to its decision.[1]


In this context, it should be noted that the Bank has already liaised with, and considered the views of, several parties on whether the Bank should grant an exemption (under the proposed varied Access Regime) to the ATM industry-proposed scheme to reduce the high expenditure on ATM fees in selected very remote Indigenous communities. [1]