The ACCC has decided to re-authorise the Australian Retail Credit Association Ltd (ARCA) and current and future signatories to the Principles of Reciprocity and Data Exchange (the PRDE), to give effect to certain reciprocity, consistency and enforceability provisions contained in the PRDE, for a further 6 years until 31 December 2026.

ARCA is the industry association for organisations involved in the provision, exchange and application of retail credit reporting data in Australia. Its members include credit providers and credit reporting bodies.

The reciprocity, consistency and enforceability provisions of the PRDE were originally authorised by the ACCC in 2015 for five years, expiring on 25 December 2020.

The ACCC has also decided to grant interim authorisation, effective immediately, to allow current and future signatories to the PRDE to continue to give effect to the provisions of the PRDE (on the same terms as the 2015 authorisation) to cover the gap between the current authorisation expiring and the new authorisation taking effect.

The PRDE sets out rules and standards for participating credit providers and credit reporting bodies to follow when contributing and accessing consumers’ comprehensive credit information.

In response to consumer advocates having raised concerns about a lack of effective consumer engagement during the independent review process for the PRDE, ARCA has committed to ‘ensure that consumer advocate groups are consulted in respect to any future PRDE amendments which are likely to lead to broader consumer impacts that are not otherwise dealt with under the existing credit reporting framework.’

The extent to which ARCA consults with the relevant consumer advocacy groups in developing any future amendments to the provisions of the PRDE will be taken into account by the ACCC in assessing any future application for re-authorisation.

An ACCC determination purported to be made on 19 November 2020 did not take into account a submission received from the Australian Privacy Foundation. The submission, in response to the ACCC’s draft determination, was received within the specified timeframe on 30 October 2020, but due to an IT issue, was not seen by the ACCC. That decision was not validly made in accordance with section 91C of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010, which requires all submissions to be taken into account, and was removed from the public register for this matter.

The ACCC immediately implemented new processes that will avoid any recurrence of this problem.

The ACCC extended the consultation period and ARCA and interested parties were invited to provide any submissions in response to the Australian Privacy Foundation’s submission by 4 December 2020. The ACCC’s determination takes into account all submissions received.

Further information about the ACCC’s determination and interim authorisation is available on the ACCC public register at: Australian Retail Credit Association.