How Centrepay works
Customers receiving welfare payments may request that their bills and other expenses be paid using Centrepay.
With Centrepay, regular amounts are deducted from the customer's welfare payments and paid directly to your Business via secure, electronic transfer.
Customers can request Centrepay deductions by:
- our online services
- the phone
- completing a Centrepay deduction form (SA325), or
- contacting your Business directly
There is a $10 minimum amount for each regular deduction. For each deduction an end date or target amount can be specified and regular deductions will cease automatically once the end date or total (target) amount has been reached.
Your Business will be provided access to our Centrelink Business Online Services (CBOS) where you can manage your Centrepay activities such as:
- receive deduction and payment reconciliation reports
- add, vary or cancel customer deductions in accordance with the customer's deduction authority
We will send an advice to the customers confirming any deduction activity.
To find out if your Business is eligible to use Centrepay and what types of goods and services Centrepay can and cannot be used for, read the new Centrepay Policy and Terms [docx 223kb] and for further information about the operations of Centrepay read the Procedural Guide for Businesses [docx 215kb].
Read more about applying to use Centrepay.
Special features of Centrepay
Centrepay has special features that make it easier for you and your customers to customise their deductions.
Setting target amounts
Target amounts may be set for Centrepay deductions where a specific total amount is required to be paid, such as payment of motor vehicle registration or the purchase of a large household item. Once the target amount is reached, the deduction will automatically cease. Target amounts can be created with a new deduction or added to an existing deduction.
Setting an end date
End dates may be set for Centrepay deductions where the deduction is only required for a specified timeframe, such as payment for temporary accommodation or education expenses payable for a school term. Once the requested end date has been reached, the deduction will automatically cease.
End dates can be created with a new deduction or added to an existing deduction.
Suspending and tailoring deductions
Centrepay deductions may be temporarily suspended, increased or decreased for a maximum period of 13 weeks.
Suspending a deduction that is temporarily not required can reduce the likelihood of an overpayment being made. Once the suspension end date has been reached, the deduction will automatically recommence.
If a deduction has been temporarily increased or decreased it will revert back to the original amount once the nominated end date for the change has been reached.
Benefits for your business
Centrepay can help your business reduce administrative costs, such as costs caused by the withdrawal and reconnection of your service to a customer.
As deductions are made directly from customers' Centrelink payments to your nominated bank account, this can help make sure bills are paid on time.
We provide approved Centrepay Businesses with:
- an alternative payment option that helps your customers pay their bills on time
- secure transfer of deduction payments to your nominated bank account directly from customer's Centrelink payments
- automatic deduction of agreed transaction fees from your customer's deduction before the deduction payment is transferred to your Business's bank account. This fee cannot be passed on to your customer
- access to Centrelink Business Online Services which allows you to:
- receive regular payment and deduction reports
- receive tax invoices
- process authorised deductions - which may include start, vary or cancel deductions
- access various Centrepay user guides
Support from the Centrepay Helpdesk is available from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm local time, Monday to Friday, on Freecall™ 1800 044 063.
New Goods and Services
Planned improvements to Centrepay will include new and improved service reasons that will support alternatives to consumer leasing and have the potential to assist with financial literacy capability. The new and improved service reasons will include expansion to support low interest loans, savings plans and layby. These service reasons will be released later in 2015.
An Independent Review of Centrepay was undertaken in 2013. In response to the recommendations of the review, we delivered a range of changes to improve the operation of Centrepay.
From 1 July 2015, we introduced a new framework for providing Centrepay to Businesses.
Key Changes to Centrepay
We will no longer provide Centrepay under the existing Centrepay policy and a contract formed by the Department of Human Services Business Terms and Conditions, Centrepay Schedule 1 and any agreed Special Conditions.
Centrepay will instead be provided under an administrative framework including new:
Changes to Centrepay that you need to be aware of include:
- a revised Centrepay objective and a requirement for each approved Business to conduct itself in line with this objective
- a revised list of goods and services that are excluded from payment using Centrepay
- a revised framework, primarily administrative in nature, that will realise a number of benefits including:
- reduction and simplification of processes and documentation for business, including more efficient online deduction mechanisms for Businesses
- procedural fairness and consistent decision-making
- new Policy and Terms that set out new eligibility and approval criteria, requirements and obligations of Businesses including clear direction on what goods and services are included or excluded for payment using Centrepay
- a Procedural Guide that plainly sets out the operational aspects of Centrepay
- a broader assurance framework that builds on the previous compliance processes and is based on prevention, detection and appropriate response to non-compliance, including improved education and support for Businesses
- Centrepay services are being expanded to allow for Centrepay deductions for low interest loans, savings plans and layby
Read more about the Independent review of Centrepay and our response.
Read the new Centrepay Policy and Terms [docx 223kb].
Existing Businesses Transition to new Policy and Terms
Transition only applies to Businesses with existing contracts for Centrepay prior to 1 July 2015.
Operation of Centrepay during transition
Centrepay will continue to operate as usual during the transition period with deductions delivering as normal. From 1 July 2015, new businesses wanting to apply to use Centrepay will have to complete the new Centrepay Business Application form. Read more about applying to use Centrepay.
Business that have already submitted applications before the introduction of the new framework and have not yet been notified of the outcome will have their application assessed under the new Centrepay Policy and Terms. It may be necessary for us to contact your Business to obtain further information or ask you to submit a new application.
Businesses already approved but wanting to apply to use Centrepay for other goods and or services must also complete a new Centrepay Business Application form. Read more about applying to use Centrepay.
Frequently asked questions for the Centrepay Businesses transition
This information is to provide answers to questions you may have about the transition.
Changes to Centrepay
From 1 July 2015, we are transitioning to a new policy and legal framework for providing Centrepay to Businesses.
We will no longer provide Centrepay under the existing Centrepay Policy and contract formed by the Department of Human Services Business Terms and Conditions, Centrepay Schedule 1 and any agreed Special Conditions.
We will replace the existing Centrepay Policy and contract formed by the Department of Human Services Business Terms and Conditions, Centrepay Schedule 1 and any agreed Special Conditions with an administrative framework including the new:
- Centrepay Policy and Terms [docx, 223kb] and
- Centrepay Procedural Guide for Businesses [docx, 215kb]
Businesses who apply to use Centrepay from 1 July 2015 will need to do so in accordance with the new Centrepay Policy and Terms.
Reasons for the change
The changes respond to the Report of the 2013 Independent Review of Centrepay.
The transition of Centrepay to a new policy and legal framework is a major milestone in achieving the recommended outcomes of the review. Read more about our response to the 2013 Independent Review of Centrepay.
Date the policy will take effect
The updated policy was published on our website on 29 June 2015.
For new Businesses it took effect on 1 July 2015.
For Businesses with existing Centrepay contracts, there is a notice period and the new Centrepay Policy and Terms will take effect on 1 September 2015. Your existing contract will be terminated with effect from the end of 31 August 2015.
Termination of contract – what you need to do
All Businesses which are currently registered for Centrepay should receive a notice about the termination of the previous contract for Centrepay which will cease at the end of 31 August 2015. This notice approves or provisionally approves your Business to continue to use Centrepay under the new administrative framework from 1 September 2015.
Please read the new Centrepay Policy and Terms [docx, 223kb] and Centrepay Procedural Guide for Businesses [docx, 215kb] to decide whether or not you agree to comply. If you agree to comply, that is all you need to do, unless you are a business approved under the Household Goods Lease and Rental (WGS) or Basic Household Items (CFW) service reasons, see further information below. If you do not agree, also see below.
If you accept a Centrepay payment, or commence a new Centrepay deduction arrangement, during the period 18 to 31 August 2015, it will be assumed that you agree to the new Centrepay Policy and Terms.
You do not have to reapply or sign any documents, we will automatically transfer you to continue to use Centrepay under the new Centrepay Policy and Terms with effect from 1 September 2015.
If you don’t receive any payments or commence new deductions during this period, or you know you won’t receive any deductions during this period and you wish to transition, you will need to contact the Centrepay Transition Team on Freecall™1800 044 063 to confirm you want to continue to use Centrepay.
If you are a business approved under the Household Goods Lease and Rental (WGS) or Basic Household Items (CFW) service reasons, you will need to provide information as part of an audit and a signed statement to be approved to continue to use Centrepay under the new Centrepay Policy and Terms. Details are provided in the notice sent to you.
Documents you need to read
Please ensure that you and your employees, agents or contractors who are involved with Centrepay, read and understand the new:
- Centrepay Policy and Terms [docx, 223kb], and
- Centrepay Procedural Guide for Businesses [docx, 215kb]
You should act consistently with those documents in relation to Centrepay.
Interpretation of the new contract
We cannot interpret the contract for you. For interpretation of the contract we recommend that you seek independent legal advice.
New approval letter requirements
The notice sent to your Business from us - “Termination of contract and approval under the new Centrepay Policy and Terms” - will constitute the new approval, if you decide to accept the new Centrepay Policy and Terms and Procedural Guide for Businesses.
If you have not received this letter via email or post, please contact the Centrepay Transition Team on Freecall™1800 044 063.
If you do not accept the new Centrepay Policy and Terms and Procedural Guide for Businesses
If you do not agree to comply with the new Centrepay Policy and Terms and Procedural Guide for Businesses, you must contact us before the end of 31 August 2015 and notify us that you wish to cease using Centrepay. We will terminate your existing contract and you will not be approved to use Centrepay after the end of 31 August 2015.
If you accept the new Centrepay Policy and Terms and Procedural Guide for Businesses, there are additional changes if your Business currently provides:
Special conditions in your existing contract
All special conditions under previous Centrepay contracts have been incorporated into the new Centrepay Policy and Terms with the exception of those detailed in your letter, which will continue to apply if applicable. These do not require any other documentation.
Any transaction fee that you are currently being charged will remain unchanged.
All your details such as your CRN and user access will remain the same.
Complaints about the changes
You can make a complaint or give us feedback.
Consumer leasing and Centrepay
Changes occurring to consumer leasing under Centrepay
As part of the new Centrepay Policy and Terms, only leases which are regulated under the National Consumer Credit Protection Act 2009 will be allowed.
Payments for indefinite leases - that are ongoing and do not have an end date - and short term leases which are less than 4 months are excluded from Centrepay.
We will not approve new applications for unregulated indefinite and short term consumer leases.
Existing Centrepay deductions for unregulated - indefinite and short term - consumer leases
Businesses with pre-existing Centrepay deductions prior to 1 July 2015 will be transitioned and permitted to continue to use Centrepay under the new Centrepay Policy and Terms for those existing payment arrangements until no later than 30 June 2016.
In accordance with the Centrepay terms, no Business will be permitted to commence any new payment arrangements, increase deductions for existing leases, or to add new leases to existing customers. By 30 June 2016, the Business must ensure it receives no Centrepay payments from any customer for unregulated leases.
After 30 June 2016, any Business found to be receiving Centrepay payments for excluded consumer leases will be in breach of the new Centrepay Policy and Terms, and may have its approval to use Centrepay withdrawn.
Types of consumer leases
If you have any queries about consumer leases, it is recommended that you seek independent legal advice or contact the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.
Funeral insurance and Centrepay
Changes occurring to funeral insurance under Centrepay
As part of the new Centrepay Policy and Terms, funeral insurance products, where benefits require payments to continue until the death of a nominated person, are excluded from Centrepay.
Scheduled repayment of funeral expenses and prepaid funeral plans will still be allowed under Centrepay.
Existing funeral insurance payments deducted under Centrepay
We will remove funeral and life insurance schemes from Centrepay, with grandparenting of existing deductions for up to 12 months.
This means that existing deductions which fall under these categories can be continued for up to a further 12 months. During this period, you will need to contact your customers to arrange for alternative payment methods or renegotiate terms of your contracts.
Applying to use Centrepay
To use Centrepay, Businesses must complete an application to be approved by us.
Costs for using Centrepay
Centrepay is fee free for customers.
Businesses pay a transaction fee of $0.99 (including GST) to us for each Centrepay deduction paid to them. The transaction fee is to cover our costs for administering Centrepay.
This fee is usually deducted from the payment made to your Business. This fee must not be passed on to your customer.
User and procedural guides for Centrepay
Deduction and Payment Application User Guide
Use the online Deduction and Payment Application (DAPA) service to get information about customer deductions and payments made to your business.
- Deductions and Payment Application user guide [docx, 1.9mb]
Centrepay Bulk Upload Service User Guide
Use the online Centrepay Bulk Upload Service (CBUS) to submit a file of requests to update customer records. Depending on your business’s access, you can process authorised deductions including starting, varying (increase or decrease) and stopping deductions.
- Centrepay Bulk Upload Service User Guide (CSV) [docx, 555kb]
- Centrepay Bulk Upload Service User Guide (XML) [docx, 555kb]
The Centrepay Procedural Guide for Businesses provides clear, practical information about the operational aspects of Centrepay. It should be read in conjunction with the new Centrepay Policy and Terms. It contains further information on applying for Centrepay, participating in Centrepay, the everyday use of Centrepay and the obligations of Centrepay Businesses.
- Centrepay Procedural Guide for Businesses [docx 215kb]
Free promotional products and forms
There is a range of Centrepay promotional products available free of charge. You can order the following products by calling Centrepay on Freecall™ 1800 044 063:
Upcoming scheduled maintenance
Check upcoming scheduled maintenance for Business Online Services.
Read more about upcoming scheduled maintenance.
Find an approved Centrepay Business
As an approved Centrepay Business you will be listed on the Business Directory to help customers find your Business. If you do not wish to be displayed on the directory, call the Centrepay Helpdesk, on Freecall™ 1800 044 063 and ask for a referral to your state Account Manager.
Helpdesk for Businesses
Businesses can call the Centrepay Helpdesk on Freecall™ 1800 044 063 with questions about applying for Centrepay, to query a transaction or update your details.