AusPost to Close POLi Payments Business, NZ Operations to Continue

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Australia Post has announced its decision to close the domestic operations of its POLi Payments business by the end of September.

This decision comes after a review of the business and its operations. The postal service expressed its gratitude for the support and understanding of merchants as they wind down operations.

Best POLi Pay Casinos

Background and Impending Closure

Australia Post is making preparations to cease its online payments service, POLi Payments, in the country. POLi's general manager, Susan Nicholson, disclosed in a recent and brief status notification to platform subscribers and merchants that the company is in the process of winding down its operations.

The primary reason cited for this decision is the reduced acceptance of the POLi platform by three major banks, rendering the business model financially unsustainable. The said closure is scheduled for September 30, 2023. Until then, Australia Post pledges to continue providing the same level of support to its customers.

POLi Payments: A Legacy of Innovation and Challenges as a Fast Banking Solution

POLi has so far served as a popular method for customers to perform near-instantaneous money transfers for purchasing goods and services. It has also been utilized to facilitate deposits for cryptocurrency exchanges, allowing users to buy digital coins.

Back in 2006, POLi Payments achieved a significant milestone by becoming one of the pioneering Australian fintech companies to offer real-time transaction services for local consumers. This was achieved by establishing a direct link between users' online bank accounts and the POLi platform.

The service gained traction, particularly within the travel industry, where it provided large merchants with the advantage of super-speedy settlement for online purchases. It was also well-received within the online gambling industry which thrives largely on banking convenience for players.

However, the emergence of PAYID and other services linked to the New Payments Platform (NPP) wholeheartedly adopted by Australian banks since 2018 has posed challenges to POLi's business viability.

Furthermore, the service has been met with massive concern and criticism from banks and customers due to its requirement for users to provide their bank account login credentials.

Nicholson acknowledged the dynamic nature of the payment landscape stating in a letter:

While the New Payments Platform provides an exciting frontier for payments and we were very proud to launch our POLi PAYID solution last year, sadly POLi is unable to effectively compete given the significant ongoing investment required to keep up with fast-paced innovation funded by large banks, multi-nationals and a venture capital/private equity backed industry.

Banks' Response and Recent Developments

Global escalation in fraud and scams has prompted banks and financial institutions to adopt new software solutions that are incompatible with traditional POLi vectors. On top of that, POLi's operation model has not been without controversy.

The service required debit cardholders in Australia to share their Internet banking login credentials with the POLi platform, a practice that had been cautioned against by many Australian banks since 2015.

This raised concerns about the level of protection for POLi customers in the event of online hacking or scams. Several banks had earlier advised customers not to use the POLi service citing these very security concerns.

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) recently escalated this sentiment by announcing that it would stop accepting POLi vector payments from mid-July 2023. CBA recommended customers utilize its own NetBank site for online payments.

This move by the bank to discontinue POLi vector payments aligns with similar decisions made by two other major banks, which in turn, has sealed the fate of the platform in Australia. It is this sequence of actions that has influenced Australia Post's choice to close the domestic operations of POLi.

Ramifications and Industry Implications

The ramifications of POLi's imminent closure extend particularly to the air travel industry, where the service offered a tailored payment solution for airfare transactions across various systems utilized by travel agents, airlines, and online booking platforms.

Airlines like Qantas, which relied on POLi for facilitating surcharge collections on airfares, are likely to face challenges in finding a suitable alternative.

The swift discontinuation of POLi has raised concerns about the potential increase in travel costs for consumers, underscoring the industry's need for alternative surcharge-free options.

Similarly, the online gambling industry has been impacted, too. POLi served as one of the most convenient casino banking options, making deposits quick and straightforward. Despite withdrawal being unavailable, this payment system made funding casino accounts a lot easier. 

Future of POLi in New Zealand

POLi has already ceased accepting new customers in Australia and is redirecting applicants to alternative payment providers like Azupay, Monoova, and Zepto.

While POLi's presence in Australia is set to cease, it will continue to operate in New Zealand through Merco Limited, which has acquired ‘local ownership’ of the service. This means we will continue to see it as a payment option in NZ online casinos.

The company is now actively exploring options to sustain its New Zealand payments operation in association with the new distributor of its services. This collaborative effort aims to ensure continued transaction processing through supported banks in New Zealand.

In the near future, Merco plans to assume full control of the system and intends to introduce new services for its audience in New Zealand. An announcement regarding these efforts is expected shortly. However, we are sincerely hoping to see POLi as a withdrawal method in online casinos in the country.

If this is on the cards, we can expect more and more fast payout casinos in NZ supporting POLi as a payment method, placing it in the league of its peers such as Skrill, Neteller, MuchBetter, Paysafe, Payz, Visa and MasterCard.

For now, it’s a rare thing.

The Lesson

The decision to close POLi in Australia reflects a strategic choice by Australia Post, influenced by security concerns and evolving banking policies.

It also underscores the importance of adaptability in the rapidly evolving fintech landscape. But despite challenges, POLi leaves a legacy of innovative payment solutions.

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