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Australia’s new real-time banking payments platform (itnews.com.au)
183 points by adrian_mrd 5 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 231 comments



Even before this, Australia still had direct person-to-person transfers. They'd just take a day, and required an account number and name.

I've written about this before, but American is terribly far behind on this:

https://penguindreams.org/blog/the-american-banking-system-i...

The closest thing we have in the US is Zelle, which is not a government mandated standard (like ACH) but a private standard created by banks and which only a fraction of banks in the US currently support.

And of course there are services like Venmo/Paypal, but these are private opt-in services, where as most other countries have this system mandated and fee-free between banks via their government reserve banks.


The US is in dismal shape compared to the UK and now Australia--And its pretty infuriating.

Although from what I understand on March 16th, 2018 the US will at least get same-day ACH. However, it will still be batch processed only two times each day--During banking hours no less! https://www.nacha.org/rules/same-day-ach-moving-payments-fas...

There is a NPR planet money on why the US has such an archaic system: https://www.npr.org/sections/money/2013/10/04/229224964/epis...

Their hypothesis? Unsurprisingly, perverse incentives. Wire transfers in the US, which usually carry a high fee ($30) are very lucrative for banks so they don't have much interest in eliminating the need for wire transfers at the moment, but it appeared that there was growing interest in moving to real-time eventually.


> Wire transfers in the US, which usually carry a high fee ($30)

Is this for real ? This sounds incredibly expensive. We have free next-day wire transfers within the entire EU, and real-time transfers for free in The Netherlands. Even my business bank account only charges 2 cents per transfer.

How do Americans wire money to each other when it's so expensive ?


They send each other checks. Actual piece-of-paper checks.

To their credit, they've got it to the point where I can take a picture of the front/back of the check with my smartphone, upload the photos to my bank's website and deposit it that way, but the first time I did this I felt really weird about the whole thing...


On my backlog is to write an app that displays a check on a tablet where you can put in your details. Then have someone take a photo with their bank app of your tablet. I bet it would work .. and show how absolutely assine and archaic we are.

In every other country I lived in, I never ordered checks, or used checks. In the US, even if I bill pay via my bank, it mails out a physical check to company it doesn't have an ACH policy with (like landlords)


I imagine some of the pictures are randomly selected for manual review, and especially any pictures that the bank deems the least bit iffy.

Unless you'd like to hire lawyers to help you with a fraud case, I'd recommend not taking that our of your backlog.


> and now Australia

I'd argue the system this sort of replaces, bank numbers + account numbers, was still better than the US. It provided next day transfer between banks and intra day transfers between the same bank. All for free.


Yes. I moved from Australia to the US in 2012 and was amazed to discover paper cheques are still a common transfer instrument, and that bank to bank transfers were not easy, standardised, or free.


India has instantaneous IMPS bank transfers.


Aussie here. I never knew that the U.S lacked this. We've had this feature for decades. Within the same bank, it's instant. Inter-bank it can happen the same day depending on the banks involved and when they run their batch processing. I always considered this a primitive system for not being instant.


Australian who lived in the US here.

It used to make me laugh when Americans would describe Australia as 'like the US 10 years ago'.

Then I would write them a check.

Then I would try and send a text message that wouldn't go across networks as had always worked in Australia for years...

In Australia leaving in the 1990s I had never written a check because even then B-Pay was around and people did direct deposit for rent and things.

But Australia probably has about as many banks as California, so we have a much smaller problem.


This is good to hear. I've been getting increasingly disappointed with a lot of things we do in Australia, so it's good to hear that we're ahead of or on par with other "developed" countries in at least a few things.


I'm an Australian who lived in Canada for a while. Banking was one of the huge surprises there - I'd get paid with cheques, and to move large sums of money between accounts with different institutions quickly needed to go to a branch, get a cashier's cheque and physically walk it down to the other bank. They'd call the first bank and confirm that it was actually issued in order to speed up processing (even then it wasn't instant).

It was all a bit bizarre, considering how much time both banks needed to spend on a routine transaction...


Same here. I am consistently amazed by the amount of things like this that I take for granted.


Nitpicky correction: before this, they only took a day if interbank. If intra-bank, they were immediate (at least on all the banks I've used).


This sounds similar to the "faster payments" system we have here in the UK, where most transfers should clear within 2 hours (in my experience they actually clear in a matter of minutes, but I guess they say '2 hours' to give a worst case SLA)

I thought this was fairly normal, until I heard about the way US banks do it on an episode of Planet Money.

The interesting thing about the new Australian system is the fact that you can use an email address or phone number instead of annoying bank account numbers, that's a nice feature. I find account numbers give me crippling anxiety when making big payments, ending up having to triple check that I've inputted every digit correctly etc


Zelle doesn't even come close. It looks fine until you use it.

Then you discover that:

1)You need an app to use it (because websites are so passe!) - an app that may or may not work, and will likely crash;

2)You will hit an arbitrary, hidden limit when you try to use it - as insultingly low as $300/week for an out-of-network bank.

These limits are not posted anywhere, and it takes 2 levels of computer service just to find out what they are.

3)The ClearXChange network (aka Chase QuickPay, etc) that didn't have these drawbacks has been shut down and replaced by Zelle.

After going through this, I am still mailing actual paper checks to pay my rent. It is simply easier for everyone involved, and there are no fees.


uggghhh. and these person-to-person services are terrible in the u.s.

I was needed to help pay for a friend in the west coast for rent where the landlord took venmo. venmo denied me for who knows what reason. while this is going on, the landlord tried setting up google wallet (which I had already). I tried sending, but it never transferred (the bank said it was google's fault). I tried another one and it had to do that insert some money into account and read it to me dance which never showed up until later (which by then I gave up).


From what I've heard, countries like Australia are often the trial place for systems like this. So it shouldn't exactly be a surprise or concern that the US doesn't also have these services (yet).


Except that Australia has had this for decades.


Instant payments, aka “instant SEPA” will be available soon also in the EU

https://www.europeanpaymentscouncil.eu/what-we-do/sepa-insta...


UniCredit introduced instant payments in Germany and Italy in November 2017, other large banks in Germany are due to follow this summer.

https://www.unicreditgroup.eu/en/press-media/press-releases/...


Too bad everything else is abysmal when it comes to technology and payments in Germany.

Most places don't accept anything besides cash for payments. Opening a bank account still involves a ton of paperwork. Official mobile apps, if they even exist, are horrible. Waiting for 2 days for SEPA transfer, even though it's usually technically done within hours. No realtime transactions for card transactions (even though they have the data right away), etc.

Unless the "SCT Inst" becomes a law that every bank must obey, I doubt majority of banks will have it implemented even within 5 years.


Credit and debit card acceptance could definitely be better (even though I was doing all right in Berlin), but I don't agree about opening bank accounts:

- N26: it took me literally 10 minutes. Identification via video chat.

- comdirect: as far as I remember, I mailed them one 4-page form, dropped by the post office for the PostIdent and that was it.

- Postbank (I needed an IBAN quickly while waiting for comdirect ;) : I walked in, everything was done in 15 minutes.

Now try the same thing in France. Online banks typically ask an initial wire transfer from another French bank since they cannot check your identity directly. And then you need to provide proof of address and salary payslips (or tax receipts). And in the end it easily takes 3-4 weeks to receive all documents and your payment card.


When I opened the bank account with the bank that now has my mortgage (in New Zealand), I was here on a visitor’s visa, and had literally been in a country only a few days.

I was able to open a bank account and get a card in 15 minutes. A few days later, I had a NZ tax number.

Since then this is my benchmark for ease :)


New Zealand is a dream for this kind of thing. Banks are actually helpful and money transfers between random people have been easy for decades. Even the NZ government is well organized - I was constantly impressed at what you could do online on well designed web sites.

When I moved to the US 4 years ago I hadn't written a cheque in 15 years; I was in for a rude surprise.


N26 is the only one that has semi useful applications and web interface.

My main problem with them is that they're first and foremost a startup, not a bank. Some issues I've had with them include double transactions, failed scheduled transactions, horrible 9-5 support, unable to unlock card because their web page was down for 24h. On top of that their security practices are horrible[0]

>I mailed them one 4-page form, dropped by the post office for the PostIdent and that was it.

And then you got 4-5 letters over the next couple of weeks. Not to mention that postident itself is a plague.

>I walked in, everything was done in 15 minutes.

And you walked out with a bunch of paperwork, and additional letters sent via post.

I've tried to open or had accounts with the following banks: N26, commerzbank, comdirect, dkb, fidor, ing diba

Dealing with any of them is like traveling back 20 years in time. Comparing it to countries that have it worse is always easy, but that does not mean that banks in Germany are not atrocious.

[0] - https://media.ccc.de/v/33c3-7969-shut_up_and_take_my_money


N26 is a bank, they have a license. Given their growth I think they didn't do too bad overall, and I've never had a problem using their MasterCard as my main payment method while living in Germany. Granted, I wouldn't have used them as my main bank two years ago, but I think they got there.

And while video chat is better than PostIdent, I don't think a trip to your local post office is that bad compared to the alternatives.

As for the ton of paper in the mail, you're right, it's annoying, but that's in no way specific to banking, everything is like that in Germany.

In short, sure, it could be much better, but it could be much worse too.


I think his point was that you made it sounds easier than it really was for some reason.

Regarding the second bank you wrote, "and that was it." In reality, you admit that there was tons of paperwork that took days to receive. So, no, that wasn't "it."


Paper != paperwork. I filled out one and only one form. It's an online bank so then of course, you receive some of the stuff in the mail, I don't see how it could be different. I've used banks in five different countries, went through all kinds of identification and second factors that exist on the market, and in Germany today, I don't really see how it could be easier. But please enlighten me.


> My main problem with them is that they're first and foremost a startup, not a bank.

N26 has a full banking license.

https://techcrunch.com/2016/07/21/number26-is-now-a-true-ban...


Yeah, I meant that more in the sense that they focus more on new fancy half broken mobile first features than on what makes bank a bank - things like working transactions.


Also Intesa have them in Italy.


We had this years ago

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IDEAL

Personally I think it should be NORMAL in 2018 to transfer money between bank accounts in near real time. Without transaction fees.


This is not only meant for commerce like iDEAL is. If anything it is supposed to work like the 'send to phone number' services offered by ING or ABN, for instance.

This is more like Swish in Sweden.


In Estonia and likely Sweden and Finland you can already do this. I use the Swedbank mobile app, and can send anyone money same-day. If it's a known account and under a user-specifiable limit (eg 30 eur) I don't even need to authenticate other than opening the app; to add a new person and account, or a large amount, I need to authenticate.


I couldn't find details on it, but will this system allow for transfers based on phone number or email or will it still be based on IBAN?


I'd actually prefer it if it was just IBAN. No need to entangle my phone and email into that.


The backend is still IBAN/BIC, but some banks also use this to offer phone number transfers.

So if you use the phone number transfers from the Sparkassen, the transfers themselves will run over SEPA ICT


It will be based on the IBAN/BIC.


This sounds like the swedish product "swish" which is immensely popular. Nobody does bank transfers between people, everybody transfers to your mobile number. So far I think there are no fees for personal use, either, although they said it would come later a few years ago. Transfers are of course instant and you can see the recipients name before you send the money, which is a great pro compared to a bank transfer to an opaque number.


Do people really transfer that much money between them on a regular basis? Everyone was touting this as the selling point for some of the crypto currencies, but I've always thought this is a non-issue. It's anecdotal but I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I needed to transfer money to a person and not to a company.


ALL the time. It's the replacement for cash. Looking at the past 6 months in my history: Split numerous restaurant bills. Paid someone who bought me a concert ticket. Bought some crap in a flea market. Bought a set of used wheels for my car. Bought a hotdog at the son's hockey game cafeteria. Bet the office sports tournament pool. Bought food in a hospital ward. Bought soda in a vending machine. Of these many happened multiple times and the clear majority were to individuals. During these 6 months I have not touched cash.


I should add: the reason this system is so convenient I’d because it’s a) tied directly to my bank account and doesn’t need me to add money to a “wallet” and b) The only system around, so when splitting a restaurant bill there is no chance someone doesn’t use it, and no chance anyone has any other system. c) Free.


Besides looking almost exactly as the written version of an advertisment used to promote the same solution(different name) in our country, what an extraordinary probe into your personal life!


Just asking, because I'm interested. Do you use it to pay Amazon? Your phone bill? You power provider? These are the areas I (Germany) currently use SEPA direct debit and would know how SEPA payments is used/replaced in other countries.


utility bills and other regular stuff like that can be delivered electronically to your bank account in Sweden, such that you just log in and approve them. domestic online purchases are commonly paid by card, by a direct bank transfer that's done integrated as part of the checkout, or through Klarna where your just approve the purchase and then sort it out with them afterwards.


Nice!


No (well, not quite), for online purchases in web shops I either just use my card or I use "bank direct payment" which goes via the same authorization (BankID smartphone app) used for both the direct to phone-number payments (Swish) and for online banking in most/all banks and other major companies and authorities.

I don't get paper bills for services such as phone/power/water/insurance/tv, they are delivered to my bank electronically and either paid automatically or I log in (BankID smartphone app) and confirm the payments.

So the transfer system isn't used for bills, but the same authorization system is used for bills/banking and direct transfer.


Thanks!


I find I need to do it quite often. Usually because, for speed or convenience, one person in a group has paid for something, like movie tickets, a round of drinks, or the bill a restaurant. Being able to do it easily and immediately makes it much less likely that you'll forget and require your friend either to take a loss, or deal with the awkwardness of chasing people for money.

Right now we use Revolut for this, where possible. But that only works when the person receiving the cash also uses it, which isn't always the case. Having a more universal system that works for everyone would be very handy.

One amusing thing about doing this approach is that, if you tend to split who does the principal payment evenly between your group of friends, then you realise you are rarely adding or removing funds from your Revolut account, you are just shuffling the same small sums back and forth between yourselves in order to keep things fair.


I'll be off topic I'm afraid but I did want to share my perspective on this. I've lived in two cultures - one where people split the bill and one where one person just pays for it and someone else does the next time and so on. I much prefer the latter approach and among well meaning people, it is hassle free. I believe this is so because on the long run, the differences don't add up to much.

I think, in some way, for me, it "shows more acceptance". I noticed that in the "split accurately" way, the greater resistance was not to pay for it but to have someone else pay for it - which in a way is disallowing someone from doing something small for you at that point of time. I dealt with this by proposing that the other person(s) could do it the next time etc. Some would find the proposal acceptable, some wouldn't.

I found that when I "converted" people this way, it led to a more relaxed setting. Perhaps it was a problem with me - finding it difficult to accept money from friends for just a cup of coffee or a meal. For me that meant the relationship was not important and the 'book had to be closed and made to add up'...

Of course, ultimately, these are only anecdotes - make of it what you will.

(Ninja EDIT: Minor clarification)


If you split and the next person pays the next time there is an assumption that it will likely happen again. If it’s a group of people that aren’t close friends it’s very convenient to not have to worry about that.

I wouldn’t swish my friend for getting a beer or coffee but if we were 4 and had a dinner bill for €300 I probably would.


I am still confused, can't the restaurant personnel take care of this? In my life wait stuff is capable of parsing following requests:

- bring me my check, pls

- bring me the check, pls. And I pay for these two bozos (out of a bigger group)

- I'll cover everyone today.

- split it x-ways, pls.

Why do I need to add an extra step to consolidate the bill afterwards?


They will do that, but it's cumbersome I think, especially if you had a large group ordering a lot of different things. And even more so if there was drinking involved. Now I just charge it to my card, snap a pic with my phone of the receipt and send to everyone at the table, and they can just swish the money over the next day or on the train home when they have time to deal with it. Keeps the accounting out of a fun night out.

Also it's easy to join a group that already have a table/tab in a bar for example, and leave before the tab is to be settled. You just say "I'm leaving, who do I swish money for 2 pints?" (Where you'd normally leave some cash on the table).


But they are supposed to account for your orders and not just bill you out of thin air, right? So what is so cumbersome of keeping track of the orders. It is literally biggest part of their job - taking an order and remembering correctly who ordered what.


Perhaps, but if I said to staff we wanted to pay individually, he’d simply ask everyone “ok what on this receipt did YOU have?”. They might have a vague idea since they took the orders earlier, but it would still be a slow and cumbersome process. I think even paying in the simplest and quickest way possible (all on one card) is more of a hassle than I’d like.

So yes, the staff can do it. But I don’t mind summing up my stuff on the receipt and just sending money to whoever paid, and the reason I prefer it is because it’s so much quicker when paying (the hassle takes place at a different time and place).

It’s not uncommon to be served by 2 or 3 different people who of course remember who orders an extra beer when they go get it - but that information isn’t recorded, it’s just registered to the receipt on the table. When the bill is brought to the table I think it’s more common than not that the person bringing it did not serve everything on the receipt so would not be able to split the bill without input from the customers.


Do you think they just do this all in their heads?

It's not cumbersome at all, they have POS systems that track individuals at tables, not whole tickets. The server inputs for the table as well as which chair they are sitting in. Then it is very easy to split a ticket in a variety of ways. I think you are complicating the process in your mind or you frequent places that don't use technology.


> I think you are complicating the process in your mind or you frequent places that don't use technology.

I think it varies, that kind of tech would only benefit a regular sit-down restaurants where the chairs are in fixed spots and constant. It doesn't work for a busy bar with me shouting "3 more beers" as the waiter walks by.

I assume the same or similar POS tech is used everywhere but in most places here I assume waiting staff either ignore it or charge everything to "chair 1" at the table, simply because so very very few ever split a bill to who ordered it. Since no one does, it's less work taking the hit when someone does (and asking people manually) rather than assigning orders to chairs all those times when no one splits. Obviously, that would also change if more people would split - so I'm guessing that with tech for splitting bills without staff help so prevalent here, it won't be common to have staff split bills.


right on. I don't really go to busy bars (or bars when they are busy, crowds don't work for me at all) so I can't relate. When I was younger and did go to bars that were busy starting a tab wasn't really a thing, you paid for you drink when it came.


US waiters probably don't have time for this.. they're too busy providing good service by running around asking "How's your meal? Everything good?" every 45 seconds.

Getting caught in the middle of billing disputes wouldn't be fun either. Easier to just require someone pay the whole thing.


In my experience in the US, many restaurants don't want to deal with complicated splitting up of the bill. Most will allow for two-way splits but beyond that, many will be reluctant or outright refuse.


It's all anekdata, but I never had this problem in US restaurants. Even at bigger gatherings when kids will sit together with other kids at the other end of a table, it is never a problem to pay for your spouse and that kid in a red shirt. After all, that's why they charge mandatory tips on bigger parties.


In the subculture I come from, splitting is the typical method, because many can't afford to just pay for everyone without risking going out of money before the next paycheck.


Agreed. I have experienced this when I had cashflow problems. I do not dare claim that either of the approaches has its own issues. I just stated how I felt about both ways of doing things and why I preferred one over the other.


I’m gonna guess that the non-splitting country has a much flatter distribution of wealth?


Interesting.

You are right indeed but might I ask how you made this connection? I never thought of it this way. One reason for it is probably that between my friends and me, there wasn't much disparity in income/wealth at the time when I was fortunate enough to be able to spend time with them regularly.


When people generally have less income disparity, their lifestyles will be more or less the same, and over time a culture of "well we spend about the same amount so let's just split it" can arise.

In other places (like the US), some people can be very conscious about how much they're spending because it's a significant portion of their income. You wouldn't want to split the check when you had a $10 salad to save money and a tablemate had the $50 filet and 2 $10 glasses of wine.


My spanish teacher, for example, accepts all payments via a similar method. She has several skype students based all over the world and the traditional methods of transfer are expensive and unwieldy.

There are also issues with Spain being rather anti people setting up simple businesses from home.


I do it all the time. Split a bill in a restaurant, repay someone for tickets that they bought for me, getting my flatmates to pay their share of the electric bill, paying a flatmate back for stuff that they picked up in the shops for me, loan someone money, get a loan to someone repaid, settling up after losing some money at poker. That's all within the last few weeks.


Too much of that and it becomes taxable "income" in less advanced Democracies.


Really? Most of them were just various ways of splitting or repaying bills. The loan I will admit might be in a somewhat legally grey area.


Traditionally only if you are charging an interest rate. There are a few rules in the US around lending money to non-family and expecting it to be paid back.

IANAL, but I lend a lot of money, and this is what I've been told:

If you give without the expectation it is typically just cash swapping hands in both directions. If you give money to a non family member and expect payments (with or without interest) OR to a family member and expect more than a rate that is defined at the IRS (<1%, IIRC), then the income is taxable. How they tax you on a no-interest loan to a non-family member, I have no idea.


A no-interest loan to a non-family member is taxed as income to the borrower. They impute an interest rate and say that amount is income since a free loan has a value. I'm not sure what exactly the rate they impute is or how large the loan has to be before they do this.


Ah, that is very similar to if the company you work for loans you money. I'm assuming the rate is probably the same as the max interest rate for a family loan.


To back up the rest of the anecdata here, I'd also say "all the time". Mainly for tickets, or dinner, or bills in a shared house. In fact, because most UK banks have pretty OK mobile apps, you can do it there and then, and with Faster Payments, it'll be in the recipient's account before the transaction actually comes out.


How often do you have outlays for another person or give someone cash?

The application can be used for any transaction. I usually use it if I've been out with some friends, then it's super easy to split the bill afterwards. Or if going shopping. Or if we share a taxi.

Before we would either settle in cash or by trying to spend approximately the same. Now everything is done this way.

That's atleast the way it works in Denmark.


It's one of the biggest successes in the fintech sector.

MobilePay in Denmark, Venmo, Cash, Paypal in the US most of the use debit card/bank accounts.

One of the problems turning it into a business though is that the Durbin Amendment and national legislation have reduced the interchange fees so that it's hard/illegal to charge for use of the card.

But it's a booming business that only just started.


I used the app four times since I moved to Sweden 2 years ago. I haven't touched cash, actually I am not sure how the current notes/coins (they changed them) look like. If you shop in stores/restaurants then you use cards mostly. Swish in my experience is for splitting bills (less common), at after work parties when someone buys beers and you pay them back, for very small vendors who do not want to bother with banks for getting CC terminals.


Yes, in most of Europe it's a primary method of payment for anything people in US would use a cheque for (and most EU countries no longer have cheques at all). It is also often used for online purchases instead of cc, but that varies more per country. This is also how you pay your taxes and how vast majority of b2b payments are done.

It's cheap, fast and simple - all you need is a name of account holder and account number.


I think you are misunderstanding. Swish is not traditional online bank transfer. Swish is like sms. You just need the phone number and the transfer is nearly instant. You would normally use it between friends, not for bills, b2b, taxes or paying in the supermarket.


Anecdotally I'm doing it at least once a week. Unlike several other respondents I rarely split a food bill (easier to just do that in the restaurant), but whenever there's advance tickets that need buying for transport or basically anything with an entrance fee (gig, play, sporting event, etc) then IME 100% of the time one person buys and the other attendees make them whole.


A lot. In Denmark, if you go out with 3 friends, one pays the bill at the restaurant and the others transfer their share to him (with one swipe on the phone to the friends phone number or email address that you already have so no need to set up receivers).

When you go to a birthday afterwards, one has bought the present and the others transfer their part to him.

Danes send money to eachother daily.


In Australia I transfer money to mates at least once a week. Makes going to the pub or out to dinner with friends so much easier.


New technologies change behaviour. People are offended now when I offer cash to split the bill in Singapore. They immediate retort with "PayLah!" the name of the local version of this service.


Multiple times a week. Like if you go out with friends and have them pay for something for you.


Most people use it at least once a week, I use it around 2-5 times per week. It's awesome.


I transfer money to individuals multiple times a week via Square Cash or Venmo.


This is the entire basis of Venmo. That's pretty popular.


There are similar products in other markets. E.g. in Denmark (and Finland) there is MobilePay, which is also very popular. Source: worked developing it for a couple of years. It get's to the point when even panhandlers don't hold a cup but a sign with their mobile numbers, so you can transfer money via the app.


It is a very well designed product, congrats on having been part of it. :)


That was already possible in AU within the same bank.


Yeah but this is between Banks


Don't tell them about Swish' absolutely brilliant QR codes, let them think they've caught up! :-D


Don't tell us about litecoin either. In my circles, we've been doing this for half a decade.


Just like the Norwegian VIPPS. It literally means "in an instant", somewhat cheerfully.


The two banks I’ve checked only allow you to use your mobile phone number or email address as your PayID (CBA and ING).

When paying somebody, when you enter a recipient’s PayID, the bank confirms by showing the recipient account holder name.

So in effect, they’ve just implemented a nationwide number-to-name lookup system.

Separate to this, these two banks are pushing it hard. It feels like a land grab, since a single phone number can only be assigned to a single bank.


Westpac appears to be limiting it to mobile phone number, not even allowing email addresses. I'm okay with giving out an email address, but not my personal phone number that people can call & buzz me any time of day or night. I'd rather just give out my BSB / Account Number.

I'm happy to see real-time payments, though. That will make it easier to bounce money around between savings accounts at different banks, no more waiting 3 days for EFT to clear.

[1] https://www.westpac.com.au/faq/payid-what-is-it/


It's not clear to me if the BSB / Account Number or BPAY payments will be in any way affected by this new system, or if they will remain as slow as ever.


They should be faster, but I doubt it.


The new payment type will be called "Osko", which can only be used with a PayID. The old payment types will apparently continue to operate the same as ever.

Banks may offer smaller maximum transaction sizes for Osko, or delay the first payment to a new account by up to 24 hours, in an attempt to reduce fraud.


Really? That's pretty poor form. And has put me off it without having even used it yet. Imagine the identity theft we are going to see when people can lookup a mobile phone number and account name on one click of their app.


CBA handles 50% of Australian Banking each day. They already have the land!


Showing the name is interesting. So now if you have a random email address or phone number and you don't know who it belongs to, you may be able to get a name from this system.


In The Netherlands, this was a privacy issue for banks. One bank showed the account holder details when you entered a correct IBAN.


Huh. With the current transfer system, you input their account number and name to confirm you're sending it to the right place (at least for NAB and ANZ).

That does sound like a bit of an information leak. I mean the big advantage is that you can make pretty big purchases, like pay for a bicycle or car, in real time without having to wait to see the transfer the next day.


Name isn’t a matching criteria in our current payments system, it may be used later in the event of a dispute or error but it is not used initially


I suppose you either create multiple email addresses and assign one to each bank, or select a single bank to receive all your incoming payments and transfer to others as required (hopefully instantly).

I hope there'll be a way to delete a phone number or email address from the lookup system once it's added, so that you can move it to a different bank.


With all the spam emails pretending to be Apple or PayPal I get, that pass the Hotmail / Gmail spam detector, you definitely want a special email address, with its own password and you’d forget name and password when you actually want to use it ;)


Why, are you worried spammers will start sending you money?


I'm not sure how I feel about this number-to-name lookup system. instant inter-bank transfers are well overdue and in theory being able to verify where you're sending cash is lovely but it's definitely a double-edged sword.


Most banks will have daily rate limiting on PayID lookups. This prevents using a banks systems as an API to PayID.


This article woefully undersells this development. As of today, Australia is the proud new owner of the world's most advanced payment system. This thing has it all, central directories, fraud sharing services, and an infrastructure BUILT for access by the private sector. There's some governance items and constraints here and there, but otherwise this is insanely advanced.


Real-time payment platforms that interconnect all the banks in the country are not new.

Heck, Nigeria rolled out a very advanced one about 7 years ago

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16374597


In India , similar system called IMPS is pretty popular for small to medium transactions. UPI is also getting popular and it’s based on IMPS


How does it work? Can I use an Android app to send money? Do I just enter the recipient's mobile phone number or is there something else that identifies the recipient?


For plain IMPS, you need to use your bank’s App. For UPI, you can use any app eg google tez, or WhatsApp. One requirement for both is you need to link mobile number with your bank account and for plain IMPS you need additional id called MMID for transfer. UPI does not need it. It also has cool feature of requesting money from other UPI addressses.


Yep, the mobile phone number or something called as Virtual Payment Address that looks like an email address (name@bankname). It's actually quite useful and a lot of apps support it including WhatsApp and Google's Tez.


The use of mobile numbers to instantly transfer money is using UPI, a system built on top of IMPS. UPI is actually just an API. Third-party apps provide payment features on top of UPI.


Can anyone post a rough breakdown on how $1B can be spent to build such a system?


I imagine it could involve building two-tree tier 1 datacenters, writing couple independent software implementations cross-checking each other, integration with legacy systems, a lot of automated testing, documentation, training. Also big vendor prices are not exactly cheap or fair.


Look you "myki" on Wikipedia. This sort of thing is normal here in Australia. I assume it's corruption. So frustrating that I'm paying for all these this shit.


You misspelled "NBN".


I doubt he got them mixed up; myki is a pre-loaded NFC smart card payment system for public transport in Victoria, Australia. go cards are another similar system.

NBN is a completely different beast, being an internet carrier and service wholesaler with ambitious and expensive last-mile infrastructure concerns, for one thing.


Correct. I didn't get the mixed up, was just bringing up another example of stupid spending we do here.


Reading about this and some of the comments here and the enthusiasm, it's a great development for sure.

But I just hope that we don't leave out those who prefer to deal with physical currency in the name of "progress"


A lot of governments want to do away with physical currency as it is simply much more difficult to track than electronic transactions. I believe it is one of the reasons China put a lot of effort in developing their mobile payment systems.


Mexico has had an instant payment system across all banks for quite q while now (spei)[1]. Does anyone knows how this compares to that? [1] http://www.banxico.org.mx/sistemas-de-pago/servicios/sistema...


How is it different from UPI?


UPI is apparently something in India and this is something in Australia?


How is Australia different from India - +3 funny - oh hang on this isn’t slashdot damn


Interesting bit is the 280 characters of test data you can include, enough for a small amount of JSON.

I worked on a hackathon for NAB where we proposed banks could be an auth provider for payments that require ID, e.g. Buying a SIM card, signing a waiver etc at the point of sale


Did I just read that they spent a billion dollars on it?


Probably collectively.

And has someone who has worked for Australian banks it is probably on the cheap side.

Many of the core systems that needed upgrading are old and there isn't necessarily the people around who worked on them. And so there are a lot of costs that go into upgrading.


It just seems absurd that it should be so complicated and expensive to build a system which on a basic level is just about maintaining a large table of numbers (the ledger of bank account balances) and doing simple arithmetic on it. And I say this as someone who develops banking systems for a living.

I think/hope the banking and financial sector in the future will be much more lean and optimized, both in terms of systems and management.


> on a basic level is just about maintaining a large table

The most dangerous word in software development.


Apparently a lot of the cost and delay was making sure that the regulatory requirements for bank transfers were met. These are handled by APCA (Australian Payments Clearing Association), which is now Australian Payments Network Limited (AusPayNet)[0]. These transfers have traditionally been done over the Bulk Electronic Clearing System (BECS). BECS is a dinosaur and I have a feeling that once you achieved agreement between the members of AusPayNet (about 120 members), met all regulations, tested the new system for reliability, performance and conformance, tested the new system for interoperability with BECS, made sure it didn't have any gaping holes that allowed fraud to take place and, finally, paid some serious money to all of the consultants and 3rd parties involved in the rollout, you'd easily approach the billion dollar mark.

This project has been underway for about 6 years now. Think of it as ~$166MM per year for the rollout. I agree that it would be nice if the Australian financial sector were lean and optimized in the future, but I don't hold out that much hope to be honest, despite other countries managing to achieve this.

[0]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_Payments_Network


Wow, that’s incredibly simplified. They have to have incredible uptime guarantees, transfer money from different banking systems, and ensure that amounts are never wrong. And we are talking millions of transactions a second here. And it has to be fully working and never make a mistake.

Not easy at all.


Australia doesn't do millions of transactions per second, that's absurd. Millions per day at most.


Millions per day is -definitely- incorrect.


> Millions per day is -definitely- incorrect.

Too many or too few?


It would be interesting to see a line item breakdown of that bill. I'd wager Oracle got a good $50 mill out of it (multi year).


It's SWIFT based.


Don't worry someone is still paying Oracle money.


Actually the SWIFT mostly runs on Oracle Tuxedo. Not sure if this is the case with the instant transfer.


Google what is bpay ;)


Personally I think a billion dollars for a nationally recognized electronic payment system is worth it. In the US the commercial solutions (venmo, paypal, etc) work fine between friends, but sometimes you get stuck having to write (paper) checks. There are several reasons this can happen:

- Some people are just old-school. I've had several landlords who barely understood the internet, good luck getting them to give their banking details to some trendy company in SF. I had one roommate who would routinely drive 30 minutes to drop off a check in my landlord's mailbox, for example. This wasn't secure, and if either my roommate or our landlord was traveling our rent payments would be late.

- Municipalities or government-supported entities are on unstable ground if they start playing favorite with private payment systems. Try getting a national lab to accept paypal, or the University of California to transfer reimbursement to an IBAN through TransferWise.

I imagine it would be even more complicated for cryptocurrencies. And in all cases, I can't say I blame people for asking for checks: it's often low-level clerks who have to do the work, why should they risk getting fired for your convenience? When the national standard is paper checks, having them stolen, arriving late, being forged, etc are all just "the price of doing business".

On the other hand, no matter how much you save your employer and increase client satisfaction by using something non-standard, you're on the chopping block if something goes wrong.


American is so far behind the rest of the world. Even before this, in Australia and New Zealand, I could pay anyone, direct bank-to-bank, with just their name and account number, within 24 hours.


Agreed. What this article doesn't mention is that the NPP is now the world's most sophisticated payment system. The things this thing can do is insane.


Look up "myki" on Wikipedia and "Australian nbn" and maybe Google for "Australian census meltdown". This is normal here.


A big reason for this system is tax.

The thought being if all payments in Australia are seamless and instant AND recorded, there will be no need for cash. Business will no longer be able to hide revenue.

They will make up this spend very quickly.


> there will be no need for cash.

There will always be need for cash, business who want to pay employees cash in hand and employees/immigrants who are desperate for jobs will accept less than minimum wage in cash


neither of these are acceptable government business reasons to keep cash


In the middle of the crypto currency bubble no less. The irony is string with this one.


This seems like a way to incentivize people to replace use of cash with use of bank accounts, thus enabling the State and the IRS to better control people lives.


Not sure why it says Commonwealth Bank is the only one open at launch. I'm with ING and got an email about it being active this morning.


Commonwealth is the only big bank, is what I got from the article. ING is definitely live.

Although, I've still not actually figured out how to pay. It's telling me I can receive. I just can't pay (with CommBank). Friends on ING in the same boat.


Commonwealth own ing. They have for a faire while. That's why Commonwealth customers could use ing ATMs for free back when they still had fees


You're thinking of Bankwest


None of this is true. ING Group owns ING. And, as far as I know, ING has never had ATMs in Australia.

ING has a long history of fee-free ATM withdrawals. Nothing to do with CommBank.


ING has ATMs? I don't think I've ever seen one, and thought it was partially why they offered to waive ATM fees for using our bank ATMs.



Here's the press release from the Reserve Bank of Australia:

https://www.rba.gov.au/media-releases/2018/mr-18-02.html


Does this just boil down to faster BSB/account number transfers between banks?

I feel they're a little to late to the party for PayPal-like payments to a email or number.


Banking in ANZ is light years ahead of the US. Why on Earth would you want to use a potentially malicious rent-seeking third-party when you could send it directly bank to bank account for free?

Looks like this is adding a convenience numbers/mapping to addresses and speeding the transfer time, which is welcome. Though I appreciated the nightly clearance because on a few occasions it gave me a chance to change the amount.


> Banking in ANZ is light years ahead of the US.

And light years behind some other countries.


Out of curiosity, who is the world leader in banking?

Going from Australia to the UK felt like going back in time 20 odd years.


When was that? I'm in the UK and I'm curious what I'm missing out on.

I have mobile banking for everything, I can do almost instant (sub 30s) transfers between banks, we have contactless payment cards and Apple/Android pay support is ubiquitous, and we can do person to person transfers using a phone number (the horribly named "PayM").

What are we missing out on here that we should be pushing our banks for? I do see that there are a number of things that people just don't seem to use very much here, but that's less about the tech, and more that there just doesn't seem to be the demand, PayM being the big missed opportunity.


This is not exhaustive but it is what comes to mind.

* Paper still required for most proof of identity/address etc. Particularly annoying almost all providers are pushing customers to move to online statements but then opening any new accounts still require paper

* Wet signatures still considered king/stronger than other forms of identification. This has caused me issues as I barely ever need to sign and hence my signature is never consistent!

* Took 5 weeks to open an everyday account upon arrival. Seems pretty standard for all ex pats I've talked to. If you are a UK local maybe you've never experienced this?

* Slow to list pending transactions although based on other posts here I may be an outlier in this experience. I assume the new digital banks (Monzo etc) have improved this significantly

* Having to specify that you want a contactless debit/credit card - do people really not want contactless cards? You can always just not use that function...

* All the banking apps I've seen over here are terrible, unfortunately didn't get to try out any of the new digital banks. I assume CBA is probably still the king for mobile banking capabilities

* When I first arrived there was no Android Pay or Apple Pay, but thankfully that did come in around mid to late 2016

EDIT: I also signed up to use PayM but never came across a single person that I needed to transfer money to/receive from that actually had PayM


Setting up accounts for the first time is a pain here, but most natives do that when they're a child. Once you already have one account, setting up subsequent accounts with other banks is much easier. Personally it has never been a problem, but I know several non-natives who had extreme difficulty.

My understanding is this is largely due to very tight regulations that have been placed on the banks to verify identity and stop money laundering. They also now rely on the banks to collect taxes and close accounts of illegal immigrants.

Lots of places ask for signatures, but I've never had anyone actually check my signature. Which is good, because like you, my signature is completely inconsistent.

Pending transactions I've never had an issue with - they usually appear on my phone within a few seconds of me tapping my card. And my banks automatically issued me contactless cards without me having to specify - but they did have an opt-out.

Android Pay was late, but is now accepted virtually everywhere across the country.

Banking apps are terrible. No argument there. Hopefully the new open digital banking legislation will fix that.

For sending money I've still always just used plain old FPS (instant) bank transfers or PayPal. PayM hasn't really been pushed enough yet...


>Banking apps are terrible. No argument there. Hopefully the new open digital banking legislation will fix that.

Honestly the Nationwide app is pretty good imho


Some particular notes:

> Paper still required for most proof of identity/address etc.

Government requirement, the "100 point test". Introduced to cut down on money laundering. It also cuts down on a lot of other crimes. In Australia I used my credit cards for any old thing. In the US if I sneeze too loudly the bank freezes it and asks me to confirm the last dozen transactions.

> Wet signatures still considered king/stronger than other forms of identification. This has caused me issues as I barely ever need to sign and hence my signature is never consistent!

I never had this experience. PIN or ID for identity, signature for legal effect. Meanwhile in the US I sign for everything.

> Having to specify that you want a contactless debit/credit card - do people really not want contactless cards?

This might be specific to your bank. They marketed contactless heavily when it came, right after heavily marketing chip-and-PIN. Might have been an own-goal.

I'm told, anecdotally, that a lot of the UK's banking modernisation in the 90s was done by Australians who participated in Australia's banking modernisation in the 80s. Might not be true, but it sounds cool, so I'm going with it.


>Paper still required for most proof of identity/address etc. Particularly annoying almost all providers are pushing customers to move to online statements but then opening any new accounts still require paper

Wouldn't they just send a courier with the papers to your place to sign it? I don't have any UK accounts so just wondering, because that's what my experience signing physical documents has been in Czech. On the other hand, N26 in Germany just needs a video call.


I've been with monzo for close to a year now, and have been with their current account for the last couple of months, and in my opinion it solves pretty much every issue you have listed above. I couldn't go back.


How quickly do credit card transactions appear in your account?

In Australia (CBA at least) it is instantaneous, in Hong Kong, it is at least 3 days.

CBA has also automated most of the account management through its netbanking - whereas in Hong Kong I need to visit a branch to create or delete an account.


I'm curious about the "20 year" difference between the UK and Australia too. My brother moved down under in 1999 (so, y'know, almost 20 years ago) and I've visited for 1-4 weeks every year since 2006. Never in that whole time have I noticed any radical difference in the personal finance experience, nor had any "ah man, you lot back home are so backward!" anecdata from him.

> How quickly do credit card transactions appear in your account?

On this note, I just checked, and the £9.75 I spent on breakfast 90 minutes ago is on my account right now. I don't know exactly when it appeared but I expect it was near enough instantaneous. Is there a reason it wouldn't be?


Frictionless and cheap international transfers would be nice.

I know Barclays have an app but I would prefer it to be a standard feature.


Check out Revolut. It's pretty awesome (no affiliation, just a happy user).


I'm not sure about world leader, but in Norway/Sweden, they've had things like PayID (Vipps and Swish), MFA, etc. for a bit.


Wikipedia mentions credit card linking and mobile apps, are those required? If so, would be negatives in my book.


Yeah, the basic idea of it is faster payments + the ability to transfer to an email address/phone number/ABN. The value is in it being supported by all the various banks and being instant, so you can just log into your banking app and instantly transfer to someone's account using only their email address, for example.

Source: I work on the account resolution service that is part of this.


Interesting. I am one of (what I assume to be) a very small subset of people that manged to enter their email address before there was any input validation. (my account is with one of the big four). Despite using internet banking my registered email address ends with @127.0.0.1

Would this prevent me receiving payments?


Ha, that's interesting - validation and normalisation is the responsibility of the banks so would depend on whether the bank of the person doing the lookup accepts it as a valid email address


AND, my understanding, is richer data to go along with transactions. A shop could, theoretically, attach a receipt to payments so you can view that in your internet banking.


Yes, this is also true :)


I presume the identifier is only usable to receive payments not to pull payments? Why does it need to be a phone number or email. Doesn’t it just need to be a unique string?


Yeah, only for receiving for now as far as I'm aware. As far as the reason it's restricted to certain types, I'm not sure - I'm contracting at a subcontractor of SWIFT so we're down the pipeline at the implementation end of things, not much visibility of business decisions.


I think I know one of the QA people who work in your company. You’ve done a pretty amazing job from the little snippets I’ve heard of this project!


Thanks, unfortunately I can't take too much of the credit personally as I've only been involved in the last few months of a multi-year project. Might be Brett that you know?


Here in Australia, bank transfers are free between banks, but can take a couple of days to clear sometimes (same bank is instant). Heard horror stories elsewhere, but pretty good customer experience here in AU IMHO.


Yeah bank transfers have always been reliable for me in sunny Australia but the issue pre-the NPP is the time it takes to transfer inter-bank and/or inter-credit union.

It’s particularly a ‘problem’ when your payments are delayed by public/bank holidays (especially those that only occur in a bank’s home state!) and feels particularly anachronistic compared to modern payment gateways.

Out of that $1bn AUD, probably half is on banker’s wages :P


No it's more like PayPal in that your PayID can be email/mobile.

But that said I would rather trust my bank than PayPal and to be fair I run into people all the time without an account.


Meanwhile, I still can't get access to a read only API for my own accounts (Commonwealth Bank).


Is this similar to the Zelle push US banks are, well, pushing for?


No, the NPP is a backend settlement infrastructure used by the central bank. Zelle would be an example of an overlay service, utility or interface to engage with the settlement system. The Clearing House's RTP, UK's FPS, or Singapore's FAST would be more akin to the NPP. NOTE: Zelle is not currently using RTP, but will likely use it in the coming months or years.


Meanwhile in the EU: Wait more than 48 hours between countries and in the same country wait up to 24 hours. And let's not think about weekends in between ;)


Except in the UK, when it's normally transferred within a few seconds, or a maximum of two hours ("Faster Payments").


The Faster Payment system always tells me that I may have to wait two hours, and then it is instant.

Have you ever had one take longer than zero time?


I guess they want to deter people phoning to complain because there is some minor delay in the system?

I've had instances where it's taken more than hour, although it usually is as near instant as physically possible.


It's for agency banks that aren't full FPS members. They have to rely on the full member banks to clear for them - the maximum allowed time for this is 2 hours.


Hah, I love that, I've never had it take more than about 20 seconds.

I have accounts with two banks (one for personal, one for joint finance with my wife) and FP makes that so easy to manage, if the joint account needs topping up I can do it in a minute or two on my laptop or phone.


Never! Maybe they randomly check suspicious transactions. I had a look for some statistics of the transfer time, but wasn't able to find any public data.


I had one take about 20 minutes, literally once.


Old-school SEPA transfers take only a few hours between modern banks, even across borders.

SCT inst is gradually coming. Bear in mind the SEPA area covers some 500 million people, it's no small feat compared to much smaller domestic markets (Nordic European countries have been ahead of Australia in this regard).


I've never ever seen a SEPA transfer real cross border go through in a few hours in my life!


12 hours was the fastest for me...


ok, that I've seen I think :)


Last September I was in Armenia. I paid at a supermarket with my debit card. I immediately opened my banking app for my Dutch bank, and the amount was already withdrawn.


The withdrawal is instant, however the recipient waits for a few hours to a few days.


Where in EU? Transfer is almost instant in the same bank where I live and between banks you may wait a couple of hours, unless you do the transfer after the last clearing. Even in that case the waiting time is less than 18 hours.


Not in Portugal where people use MB Way for instant (~1 second) transfers. It's been around for a while and it relies on phone numbers too.


Can't say I've ever heard of anyone using it, though, and I worked at a software company.


There's so much wrong in this statement, it's a wonder how this was possible.

Inter-country and intra-country transfers are all identical (all running via SEPA) and should make no difference.

SEPA transfers are legally limited to 24 hours already.

SEPA ICT is being rolled out right now, from summer on most banks should support it, which transfers up to €15'000 in 10 seconds.


you maybe never lived in other countries in the EU. It takes more than 24 hours. Client gives order to his bank in country A on Monday evening, bank will execute this order next morning because bank is closed. Money will be transferred from bank A to bank B within this 24 hours. Client b sees on mid day on day 3 or even 4, that's Wednesday (or Thursday) his money on his bank account. Don't tell me about the law... it does not work (and maybe only interbank it works) and I know from practicall experience this is not untypical.


This is the problem about talking about the EU like it's one country, it's not.

As another commentator pointed out, the UK it's instant, now it turns out in Germany it's also instant.

That's 150 million EU citizens.

You shouldn't make assumptions that whatever happens in your country, it happens for the rest of the EU.

Here's Holland's transfer times:

https://hoeveelkrijgjij.nl/blog/belastingen/hoe-lang-duurt-g...

That's another country that takes less than 24 hours. I picked them because when I often visited there as a child they seemingly had chip + pin way before the UK, so I assumed they'd be quite advanced. Not quite so as advanced as UK/Germany though. My Dutch isn't great but it looks like it's same day as long as it's before 15:30 on a working day, otherwise next working day. France I'm struggling with as google is obsessed about giving me UK to France bank account wait times.


Good comment! My experience is with several bank transfers between this 4 countries: Lithuania, Cyprus, UK, Germany (all EU / EEA). Don't assume because it works in Germany and France it works everywhere that way!


I live in Germany, and I'm using online banking with the Commerzbank (normal account), Postbank (savings) and N26 (CC).

I've done hundreds of transfers, sent and received.

In fact, frequently I transfer money to ny parents, or they to any of my accounts (they use commerzbank or postbank), and usually within of 10 minutes my phone gives me a push notification that the transaction has completed and the money is there.


What you are describing are transfers in the same bank. This are totally different than doing real cross border SEPA transfers. I'm only describing my experience with 4 countries (Lithuania, Cyprus, UK, Germany: all EU / EEA)


@kuschku: Well banking system from German and French banks are probably more advanced and faster. It does not work everywhere in EU that way.


I'm describing transfers Commerzbank->N26, Postbank->Commerzbank, and then, for my server payments, transactions Commerzbank->whatever French bank Scaleway/Online.net uses.


Interesting. That's definitely not true for my DKB and Sparkasse accounts in Germany.


Most German banks should finish rolling out ICT in summer, so things should improve in a few months.

And often banks have copperations, where, between cooperating banks, transactions already run much faster.


They spent one billion Australian Dollars to implement a national system for instant payments and have yet to convince banks to adopt it? And it forces users to hand out their phone number or email to strangers?

Given that, Bitcoins $140B market cap does not seem too unreasonable. As it is international and gives users better privacy controls.


It does not have to be violating your privacy. In India, we have IMPS as the immediate payment system. On top of this, the central bank has built UPI - which allows mobile numbers for payments. But it also allows the use of "dummy" or "virtual" ids which can be used to mask your identity from the payer. There is no reason why this cannot be done in Australia also.


Bitcoin: a bargain at $40 per transaction in fees!

Edit: And several hours to clear


>$40 per transaction in fees!

https://bitcoinfees.earn.com/

what?


Don't focus on Bitcoin; focus on the general idea of cryptocurrencies: international, fast, secure, decentralized. That idea is magnitudes of order way more difficult to implement than a banking platform built on top of preexisting infrastructure.


It's true that Bitcoin's current setup is not suitable for a broader adoption. It's already at the limit with just 6 transactions per second.

But the Lightning Network might be a solution to this. After reading quite a lot about it, I tend to think that it can work.


The banks spent $1B dollars,

What are you saying they've not adopted.


This is the anti-privacy, anti-Bitcoin system.

And HN people are loving it!


And what is so private about Bitcoin? Cryptocurrencies have potential, but they're not really anonymous yet




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