TODAY marks the beginning of the six week ‘golden season’ for retailers where Australians are expected to make a staggering 1.5 billion transactions between now and the end of the January post-Christmas sales, peaking at an estimated 85,000 transactions per minute.
Customers will spend more than $100 billion on their credit and debit cards over the six-week Christmas and New Year’s sales season, with retailers relying on it for up to 60 per cent of their annual turnover.
But Tyro Executive Director Jost Stollmann today warned that bank IT failures threatened this ‘golden season’ for customers and retailers, given that maintenance shut-downs, failures and outages have occurred twice weekly for the last six months.
“At a time of 24-hour retail trade during the busiest time of the year, it is critical that Australians have access to reliable 24/7 banking,” Mr Stollmann said.
“Competition from international online retailers is fiercer than ever, so Australians need to be confident in their bank’s ability to rise to the challenge of this golden season.
“But Australian banking failures are leaving consumers stranded with no way of paying for their shopping, medication, meals or settling their bills, while retailers are vulnerable to lost sales.
“In the last fortnight alone, two of Australia’s big four banks had planned IT stoppages, leaving millions customers and businesses right across the country without access to payment platforms.”
Australia’s “Big Four” have suffered 29 service interruptions, or an average two a week, between June and September this year.
Last month NAB suffered several system failures in the space of just one week, with NAB’s Chief Customer Officer Andrew Hagger issuing a statement stating there had been “a number of disruptions to our services” affecting “so many of our customers”.
Mr Hagger admitted these outages occurred despite “investing significantly in our technology every year” and “constantly updating our systems”.
Australia’s 2 million Small and Medium Sized businesses (SMEs) are the backbone of our economy, contributing more than $343 billion to industry each year.
In 2015/16, Australian personal and business cardholders made about 6.9 billion card payments worth $538 billion; an increase of about 12 per cent and 7 per cent respectively to 2014/15.
Mr Stollmann said that despite the banks’ unreliable processing systems, retailers will be forced to pay an estimated $650 million in ‘Grinch-like’ bank fees this Christmas season.
These are hidden interchange fees that banks charge each other for the use of credit and debit cards that are levied on retailers who often pass them onto consumers in the form of a surcharge or higher-priced goods.
“Banks prevent customers shopping when they want to because of many years of under investment in their core IT systems,” Mr Stollmann said.
“Unlike the big four banks, Tyro delivers non-stop processing of more than $10 billion in payments for Australian SMEs each year.
“That is because we have built a first class IT system from scratch over the last 10 years, rather than relying on legacy systems that were established generations ago.
“In case of a maintenance interval or component failure, Tyro terminals simply seek the next available switch in seconds. Tyro’s small-to-medium businesses and their customers are not impacted.“
Mr Stollmann said as both consumers and retailers move towards an increasingly cashless society, the reality was the big four banks had unreliable IT systems.
“As we’re heading into 2017, one of the critical decisions facing SMEs is whether to stick with the big four banks or ditch and switch.”