Remittance firms urge dialogue with banks following Court-ordered reprieve

Sydney, 28 November 2014 –The industry body representing remittance providers, or money transfer operators (MTOs), has urged Australia’s major banks and regulators to fast-track dialogue leading to a viable operating model for the remittance industry, following the Federal Court’s granting today of an interim injunction against Westpac closing down the accounts of MTOs.

The injunction was brought by a group of 23 MTOs last week in an attempt to delay the closure of the accounts, which would be a death blow for the remittance industry.

The industry body, the Australian Remittance and Currency Providers’ Association (ARCPA), was not involved in the injunction application.

Westpac is the last major bank in Australia to extend banking services to MTOs, but it had previously announced it would terminate support on 24 November2014 citing concerns around risks, and meeting its Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing (AML/CTF) obligations.

However, the Court today ordered Westpac to postpone the closure of accounts until 22 December 2014, when a full hearing of the matter is scheduled.

ARCPA Director and spokesperson, Dianne Nguyen, said the Court’s ruling, though a welcome temporary reprieve for all MTOs, highlighted the need for banks and regulators to agree on a longer term model that would allow remittance providers to continue operating.

“This is not an issue that needs to be played out in Court. At this point banks, the Federal

Government and MTOs want certainty, and the best way to achieve that is for all parties to work collaboratively toward a new approach that is consistent with banks’ risk-management

requirements,” Ms Nguyen said.

“It is time now for the banks to come to the table. For our part, remitters are more than happy to accommodate banks’ concerns, and we have detailed proposals for introducing tighter compliance measures and strengthened practices across the sector,” she said.

ARCPA said it was hoping to convene a meeting with the Australian Bankers’ Association (ABA) and key Government agencies next week. ###

Updated: 2014-11-28 — 11:19:02