Australia Ponders Tighter Regulations for Apple, Google, and WeChat digital wallets

The Australian government is considering new laws that would tighten the regulation of digital payment services by tech giants such as Apple and Alphabet’s Google.

The move is sequel to a government-commissioned report into whether the payments system had kept pace with advances in technology and changes in consumer demand.

Services such as Apple Pay, Google Pay and China’s WeChat Pay, which have grown rapidly in recent years, are not currently designated as payment systems, putting them outside the regulatory system.

“Ultimately, if we do nothing to reform the current framework, it will be Silicon Valley alone that determines the future of our payments system, a critical piece of our economic infrastructure,” Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said in an opinion piece published in the Australian Financial Review newspaper.

Earlier this month, the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) called for global financial watchdogs to urgently get to grips with the growing influence of ‘Big Tech’, and the huge amounts of data controlled by groups such as Google, Facebook, Amazon and Alibaba.

The Australian report recommended the government be given the power to designate tech companies as payment providers, clarifying the regulatory status of digital wallets.

It also recommended the government and industry together establish a strategic plan for the wider payments ecosystem and that a single, integrated licensing framework for payment systems be developed.

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