There are plenty of articles floating around the web this evening that try to explain the state of Apple Pay in Australia in light of the recent media attention the issue has received, but I’m linking to this one by Graham Spencer because, as an Australian, he is one of the more qualified people to talk about it.
The fact of the matter is that Australia’s contactless payment infrastructure was leaps and bounds ahead of the rest of the world, and in particular the United States, not long ago. We’ve remained in the lead, on par with Canada, but I fear that lead will be short lived. Since the introduction of Apple Pay in the U.S.A., their contactless payment infrastructure has surged ahead and with the help of offerings such as Square, will probably rival if not exceed that of Australia shortly.
The reason the banks down under aren’t as keen on mobile payment as most feel they should be (with the lone exception of ANZ) is that they spent years getting ahead with their own proprietary technology. This rollout took time and money and they don’t like the thought of Apple and others waltzing in and taking advantage of this infrastructure. This is a poor excuse, and one that if the banks hold on to for too long could result in Australia falling back from our “world leader” status in contactless payment technology. Surely the competitive advantage derived from fantastic contactless infrastructure is nearly at an end, and opening up the infrastructure is the next step forward?
Customers want mobile payment solutions, it’s that simple. It has worked in the States, and hasn’t created competition problems. In fact, Apple Pay has spurred innovation and investment in infrastructure. Who’s really interested in the $2.99 “tap and pay” sticker offered by the Commonwealth Bank? It’s ugly and clunky. Apple/Android Pay make for a far better user experience. Ultimately shouldn’t the banks be striving to deliver this?
If Australian banks had their way they’d have infinitely more control over payment systems than Apple request with Apple Pay. It’s not Apple we should be worried about. As Graham says in his article, Apple aren’t foreign to negotiating Apple Pay deals either. The “fear” the banks are pretending to have of Apple, Google, and Samsung isn’t warranted.
Quite frankly I’m disappointed in the reluctance of my bank to support Apple Pay, and even more disappointed in the excuses they’ve come up with. Two years since launch, it’s about time all of the major Australian banks jump on the Apple Pay bandwagon.