"Money or Monies worth? Beware the Transaction "Cost" of Payment Systems"

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"Money or Monies worth? Beware the Transaction "Cost" of Payment Systems"

Sarah Hinchliffe, Barrister and Solicitor (HCA, Vic), The University of Melbourne, Australia

The efficiency of business transactions has become increasingly important in the digital age, and an issue that has arguably evolved as a result of free-markets. Already, advances in technology has revolutionised the medium of exchange from tangible hard-cold cash, to an intangible medium, “digital data”. The current electronic payment systems (“PSs”) such as ATM, EFTPOS and credit cards are account-based PSs. Several new types of hardware-based PSs (e.g. Smart cards) and software-based PSs (e.g. DigiCash), have also developed. For instance, advancements in internet technology have enabled the “Egold” company in 1996 to trial private digital competing currencies. Recently, there has been increasing recognition by treasury groups who have lobbied for the development of a national based payment system – particularly in Australia, the United States (US) and the European Union (EU). This article will address the evolution and regulation of payment systems in select jurisdictions, but with a focus on the Australian position following the case of Visa International Inc v Reserve Bank of Australia. This case defined and highlighted the shifts that had taken place in a “payment system” (“PS”), both regulatory and structurally.

Sarah A. Hinchliffe is a Barrister and Solicitor of the High Court of Australia and Supreme Court of Victoria, and has practical experience in the area of taxation law having worked for the Australian Taxation Office and in private legal practice. Sarah has been the Director of a boutique law firm, Princeton Legal (Hinchliffe Legal), since 2010. In addition to her work and engagement in the legal profession, Sarah is a Teaching Fellow (Teaching Specialist) in Taxation at the University of Melbourne. Sarah teaches in the postgraduate Masters program and has also taught at a postgraduate level at Monash University, Victoria University and for the Taxation Institute of Australia. Sarah is an Associate member of the Law Institute of Victoria and of the Taxation Institute of Australia. She is also a member of the Taxation and Revenue Committee and the Intellectual Property and Information Technology Committee at the Law Institute of Victoria. Sarah has been an external editor for the Law Institute Journal and she has been engaged by the Productivity Commission as a consultant. Her research interests are primarily in the areas of taxation law and intellectual property. In relation to the former, direct taxation, taxation compliance and international taxation; and in relation to the latter, Chinese, Canadian, European and American intellectual property law. Sarah has published in these respective areas, and she has also delivered seminars in the area of taxation (including USA, UK and Australian taxation laws) as part of the Asian Institute of International Financial Law seminar program at the University of Hong Kong. Further, in 2012, Sarah has been appointed as a Visiting Scholar at Harvard Law School and Boston University School of Law.

The University of Melbourne is ranked among the leading universities in the world, with its international peers placing it in the top 20 worldwide, and employers placing it in the top 10. In the prestigious 2011 Times Higher Education rankings of the world’s top 200 universities, Melbourne ranked top in Australia and 37 in the world. The result means the University of Melbourne is the highest placed Australian university in three of the four major world rankings. The University is also Australia’s leader in the Shanghai Jiao Tong and Higher Education Evaluation and Accreditation Council of Taiwan rankings, and second nationally in the QS table. Melbourne's membership of the Association of Pacific Rim Universities and U21, as well as involvement in other international business and cultural institutions like the Business Councils for China, India and Malaysia means its reputation precedes it.

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