REST program webinar update: your questions answered
Find answers to questions asked at the REST program industry update webinar held on Wednesday 7 December 2022.
The webinar focussed on important updates to AUSTRAC Online (AO) that will impact how you interact with us and fulfil your AML/CTF obligations. It covered what changes have been delivered so far, what we’re working on now and the changes you can expect to see in the next 12 months and how this may impact you.
On this page, you’ll find answers to your questions about:
- background to REST
- transaction reporting
- new AO functionality
- consultation, support and what’s next
For more information on the REST program, including the forward 12-month plan for transaction reporting and the AO portal and business management, visit Reporting Entity System Transformation (REST) Program.
Background to REST
What gave rise to the review of AO?
Australia's financial sectors and technology have changed significantly since AUSTRAC Online was first rolled out in the early 2000's. The REST program will transform AUSTRAC Online to improve security, increase system capacity and provide a modern user centric platform. This allows for engagement with our reporting entities - reflecting the activities of modern financial transactions conducted in Australia today.
Are these reporting upgrades just for IFTI-E reports or also for IFTI-DRAs (IFTI - designated remittance arrangements)?
The reporting enhancements will be applied to all transaction report types.
Will there be API connectivity?
Yes. AUSTRAC has introduced the modern standard of system to system connections; API, for reporting of IFTI-E v2.0 transactions. Other transaction report types will be brought across to the updated connectivity over the course of the REST program.
What details are essential in an SMR that AUSTRAC would like to look at? Is there a tentative date for delivery of an SMR minimum viable product (MVP)?
AUSTRAC anticipates that the consultation for SMR form will take at least the first half of 2023. At this time we expect an enhanced SMR form will be released from early 2024.
The SMR consultation process will be comprehensive to ensure all reporting entity industry sectors, as well as our law enforcement partner agencies, have an opportunity to contribute. Collated feedback will be used to develop an updated SMR transaction report form that is fit-for-purpose, allowing reporting entities to quickly report suspicious matters to AUSTRAC.
As we have access only to Manual Data Entry only for our SMR reporting, we were told to submit a certain number of SMRs to gain XML access. Are you looking at any other simplified process for SMR reporting as the manual data entry process is time consuming (apart from the XML access)?
AUSTRAC is reviewing all ways transaction reports are currently submitted including the current data entry and ‘spreadsheet reporting’ submission methods. AUSTRAC will consult with reporting entities and explore all options between single data entry and an XML and what can be applied to different transaction report types. Please get involved in our industry consultation to help shape the solution.
When will you implement a more tailored SMR form for the BNPL (buy now pay later) industry or other specific industries?
One of the primary pain points from previous consultations was that the current SMR form isn't fit for purpose for a number of industries. Through upcoming consultations, we will be contacting participants from all impacted industries to understand the type of information fields needed within an SMR to most efficiently and accurately report the suspicious activity. If you would like to participate in workshops and surveys, please become a member of the Customer Advisory Group by emailing email@example.com.
When you do your consultation for SMR reporting will you be consulting all different types of industries or mainly banks?
All our reporting entities are important in the protection of our financial systems against money laundering. We understand that it is very important that reporting entities from all regulated industries are able to report transactions in a format centric to their business. It is important the REST program reaches a wide range of industry participants to ensure transaction report forms are fit-for-purpose for all industries.
Will the availability of manual input of individual TTR and SMR reports still be available?
Yes, AUSTRAC is hoping to transform manual data entry to make it even easier and quicker for reporting entities to meet their reporting obligations.
When considering changes to reports such as IFTIs and SMRs, are you also engaging and obtaining feedback from law enforcement agencies and financial intelligence units (FIUs) as to what is of benefit in terms of data points, to ensure what we report is of value?
Yes, as part of the transaction reporting review AUSTRAC is reaching out to all of our partner agencies and stakeholders who use our information to ensure that the information collected through transaction reports is the most useful information. This allows AUSTRAC as an intelligence agency to support the fight against serious crime and to protect our financial system.
Is there any plan to update the reporting functionality for reporting entities within a designated business group (DBG)? I.e., instead of having to go into the ‘my business’ section of each reporting entity individually to see the designated services they are enrolled for, are you exploring functionality to be able to pull a report for all RE's within the DBG?
AUSTRAC is considering options around improved workflows and flexibility for users that undertake reporting and other functions for multiple reporting entities within DBGs as well as options for viewing information across DBGs.
What kind of controls and access level will be granted to affiliates to have direct access to AO?
This is still under consultation. AUSTRAC is considering options for improved workflows and increased flexibility of user access and permissions, including for affiliates. We understand there are benefits to bringing affiliates on to AO to provide easier access to AUSTRAC information and to track information provided and received.
Will the number of administrator access users on AO be increased for each RE?
AUSTRAC is reviewing user accesses and permissions to provide more flexibility and appropriate controls for our range of reporting entities.
Will the annual compliance report also be in scope?
At this stage, we are not planning an overhaul of the compliance report. However we are looking at how some of the other functions, such as user workflows and approvals may be applied to the compliance report. If you have any particular concerns around the compliance report please email us.
We are often asked for a formal PDF to prove our AUSTRAC registration. However, we can only provide a screen shot of our AO online page. Will there be a formal registration document available for download similar to an ASIC registration certificate?
This isn't currently in scope. However if this something required, we may be able to have a further discussion on this.
Will all old XML schema versions be retired at a certain date?
As part of the REST program we are introducing new and updated schemas. We will be retiring older XML schema versions that are no longer fit-for-purpose. Whilst the timeframe for this has not been set, we will provide sufficient notice to allow reporting entities enough time to upgrade to the latest versions.
Consultation, support and what’s next
Can AUSTRAC please provide the link for the reference guide on our website?
REST guidance materials are available on the AUSTRAC website. Additional guidance materials will be added as new functionalities are roll out.
Will AUSTRAC undertake continuous improvement, development and maintenance moving forward?
Yes, as part of the REST Program there is ongoing resourcing to support continuous improvement, development and maintenance of the upgraded AO.
What support is available for smaller entities who are scaling up and may require ongoing support? Is there any dedicated source for arranging meeting with AUSTRAC?
We will continue to offer support to all reporting entities, regardless of size or the designated services you offer. This support includes the provision of guidance material, website updates, webinars, emails and ongoing consultation.
If any reporting entity needs further support, please contact AUSTRAC on firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a phone call or meeting.
Are the consultation workshops all reporting entities or specific to some industries?
The REST Program has formed a customer advisory group (CAG) that has representatives across all reporting entity industries and we welcome any new interested members. Please email email@example.com to get involved.
Is there a way for REs to contact AUSTRAC REST program to provide more detailed input by email or face to face?
Yes, if you want to participate in REST workshops and surveys, please become a member of the Customer Advisory Group by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.