Budget, papers, documents

On Tuesday evening, the federal government unveiled its 2018-19 budget papers, which revealed plans to support an open banking framework; the acceleration of the GovPass program; exploration of the application of blockchain for government; and the promotion of the industry.

Open banking: $44.6 million

The government will pledge $44.6 million across four years from 2018-19 for the creation of a “national consumer data right” (CDR).

The CDR will help “consumers and small to medium enterprises to access and transfer their data between service providers in designated sectors”, the budget papers said.

Over four years, the $44.6 million – which also includes $1.4 million in capital funding in 2018-19 – will be split across three government agencies:

  • The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) will receive $19.6 million;
  • CSIRO will receive $11.6 million; and
  • The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) will receive $12.1 million.

A fact sheet from industry body FinTech Australia said the ACCC’s role would be to “oversee sectors that will be subject to the CDR”.

Meanwhile, CSIRO would set data standards, with the funds going into innovation centre Data 61; and the OAIC will “assess the privacy impact” of the CDR.

Commenting on the budget release, FinTech Australia chair Stuart Stoyan said the peak body “broadly welcome[d]” the budget measures but also noted it made no explicit mention of the open banking framework.

“The big news will really be whether the government has stood up to the big banks and will introduce a world-class open banking framework next year that empowers consumers to receive improved and better-priced financial services,” Mr Stoyan said.

Digital identity (GovPass) program: $92.4 million

The government will also provide the Digital Transformation Agency with $92 million in 2018-19 to “accelerate the implementation of the GovPass program”.

“This will include a pilot for users to create a digital identity and complete a tax file number application online from end to end,” the budget papers said.

According to the DTA website, the GovPass program aims to make it easier for Australians to prove their identity to government services by having accredited organisations (such as government agencies) vouch for them.

“The Australian Taxation Office will absorb $25.9 million and the Department of Human Services will absorb $5.6 million,” the budget papers added.

In a joint statement with Minister for Social Services Dan Tehan, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Digital Transformation Michael Keenan said helping people conduct business online reduced travel and processing time.

“While we deliver these major transformation projects, we remain committed to ensuring Australians can access the services they need, which is why we are also boosting our telephone capacity,” Mr Keenan said.

Applications of blockchain for government services: $0.7 million

The DTA has also been provided a separate $0.7 million in 2018-19 to look into “areas where blockchain technology could offer the most value for government services”.

But the funding for this will come out of “existing resources” of the DTA, the budget papers said.

Promotion of fintech industry: $0.1 million

Finally, the government has also allocated $100,000 from its 2017-18 budgets to “promote Australia internationally as a financial technology (FinTech) destination”.

“Supporting a successful Australian FinTech industry provides opportunities for financial services exports, as well as for the development of products and services in other sectors of the Australian economy,” the budget papers said.

“The cost of this measure will be met from within the existing resources of the Department of the Treasury.”