Three of Australia’s big four banks now offer Apple Pay

June 26, 2019

The National Australia Bank has become the third of Australia’s big four banks to enable Apple Pay after a long and protracted standoff with the tech giant.

On May 17, the NAB announced it would join ANZ and CommBank in offering the service, leaving only Westpac yet to come aboard.

So why the delay and what does it mean?

What is Apple Pay?

Apple Pay is a digital wallet that allows consumers to link their bank account and pay for purchases using their iPhone, Apple Watch, iPad or Mac.

The payment method was launched in the US along with the iPhone 6 in 2014 and within two years it had 62 million users globally. In 2017 that figure doubled to 127 million and by last year it had more than doubled again to 383 million users, according to Statista.

But although released in Australia in November 2015, it wasn’t exactly met with open arms by three of the nation’s biggest banks.

The battle with the banks

Although much anticipated, Apple Pay’s arrival in Australia sparked a major battle with the National Australia Bank, CommBank, Bendigo Bank and Westpac, while ANZ happily jumped on board.

In a nutshell, the banks gripe was all about their access to Apple’s near field communication service. The banks wanted to develop their own apps which could be used on Apple devices, but Apple was firm on rejecting the move.

Apple argued that was because the banks wouldn’t share their fees, the banks argued Apple was restricting consumer’s ability to choose their payment method.

As the Sydney Morning Herald explains: “The Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Westpac and NAB reached an impasse in talks with Apple in 2016 over access to hardware on phones.

“They launched a bid to collectively boycott Apple Pay, attempting to strengthen their bargaining position against the US tech giant. This move was quashed by the competition watchdog in 2017.”

Ultimately the banks lost, admitting to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission they were losing customers due to a lack of access to Apple Pay.

“[We are] aware that a number of customers have signed up for payment cards with American Express and ANZ Bank in order to use Apple Pay,” they conceded, also noting that trend would continue until they could access the service.

Last year CommBank buckled under the pressure, with NAB now following suit, and Westpac currently holds the position it remains open to offering the technology.

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NAB and Apple Pay

In launching Apple Pay on May 17, NAB Chief Customer Experience Officer Rachel Slade said: “We’ve been hearing from customers that they want Apple Pay and it’s great to be able to launch this service today.

“We’re continuing to listen to customer feedback and take action to become the bank our customers want.

“As part of our transformation we are investing significantly in our technology and digital services to support our customers to manage their money how they choose.”

The bank is now contacting eligible customers to let them know about the arrival of Apple Pay and how they can start immediately using the service.

What does it mean?

Well for NAB customers it means they will now be able to make payments easily and conveniently on their Apple phones, tablets, wearable technology and Macs.
For the banks who have come on board, it means there’s less threat consumers will jump ship to their competitors.

And for Apple Pay, it will probably see a spike in Australians utilising their service.

For business, the impact will likely be a jump in contactless payments as more consumers embrace the convenience of tap n go through a range of digital wallets like Apple Pay and forms of contactless payments.

But ultimately in business, it won’t matter which service or technology consumers choose to go with, increasingly Australia is becoming a cashless society and those businesses who facilitate the transition through NFC payment options are best primed to service their consumer.

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