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Ngā utu

Our Future of Money policy work is also seeking improvements in payment systems to better support the use of money and its pivotal roles in the financial system, economy, and society.

Our role in money and payments 

Our role in money and payments is a multi-faceted one. We oversee, operate, regulate, and supervise core payment systems. Through these systems, New Zealanders can:

  • save and spend their money
  • manage risks
  • together grow the economy and make life better. 

We also make sure businesses and banks receive the money being paid to them.

Payments are a feature of our day-to-day lives and critical to the smooth functioning of our economy.

Read our explainer on how payments work

What are we doing to improve New Zealand's real-time payment capability?

We are concerned that New Zealand’s banking and payments industries have fallen behind internationally in making real-time payments possible between accounts held at different banks. 

This view, expanded upon in the 6 points below, helps drive our stakeholder engagement, monitoring, and regulatory approaches in the payments space.


New Zealanders and the New Zealand economy should benefit from modern real time account-to-account payments capability. If it is well designed, implemented and governed, it should improve the levels of innovation and competition across the payments landscape.

Our preference is for the private sector to lead and make meaningful progress on developing and implementing New Zealand’s real time account-to-account payments capability.  We have set out this expectation, along with the other 5 key points in a letter responding to PaymentsNZ.

Read the letter to PaymentsNZ (248 KB)

We will, alongside other Council of Financial Regulator (CoFR) agencies engage with industry on major design issues to deliver reliable, efficient, innovative and competition-enabling outcomes. We will also closely monitor industry progress towards real time account to account payments. As a first step, we expect industry to set out a timetable that demonstrates its commitment and progress.

CoFR vision for the future of New Zealand's payments | Council of Financial Regulators

Real-time account to account value transfer should form a foundation for other functionalities. Other notable work streams include:

We will continue to work closely with CoFR agencies to maximise synergies, and we’re interested in how industry sees these working together.

CoFR vision for the future of New Zealand's payments | Council of Financial Regulators

International evidence suggests that a central bank digital currency (CBDC) has better features if it is highly interoperable with real time account-to-account payments. While real time payments and a CBDC may compete in some use case scenarios, there are potential opportunities for design synergies.

Real time payments developments should observe the relevant international standards, the Principles for Financial Market Infrastructures (PFMI). In particular, the arrangements should:

  • have a sound risk management framework
  • be resilient so offering continuity of service,
  • and allow fair and open access.

Should the arrangements be assessed and designated as systemically important, they would become subject to comprehensive oversight under the Financial Markets Infrastructure Act 2021, which would include a requirement to comply with standards based on the PFMI.

Our oversight of financial market infrastructures

Principles for Financial Market Infrastructures (PFMI) |

Read Karen Silk's speech on New Zealand’s changing payments landscape

Exchange Settlement Account System (ESAS) review

We are reviewing who can bank with us, with real-time and irrevocable transactions between account holders.

Our Exchange Settlement Account System (ESAS) is currently used by 12 major banks, 5 large institutions, and us to settle transactions immediately and irrevocably. ESAS helps ensure stability in the financial system and provides a direct way for our monetary policy decisions to influence the economy as we pay interest on ESAS balances at the Official Cash Rate.

We are reviewing our current access policy and criteria. We receive regular approaches from a variety of institutions seeking access to ESAS. Broader access could enable and encourage welcome innovation in the financial system but may also pose risks.

Find out about our proposed ESAS risk assessment framework