The Commonwealth Bank of Australia has today revealed exclusively to ZDNet Australia its plans to offer customers a mass-market release of near-field communication (NFC) payment technology within three months.
(Credit: Luke Hopewell/ZDNet Australia)
NFC facilitates the transmission of data over a range of approximately 10cm. An NFC-enabled chip in a mobile phone can interact with a proximity card reader to make mobile payments.
A highly placed source within CommBank today told ZDNet Australia that the bank intends to skip the trial phase and go straight to market with a case-based option to power up a customer's mobile handset with NFC.
It is understood that the cases would be powered by a microSD card programmed with a customer's banking details, and inserted into a phone case complete with an in-built contactless payment chip.
ANZ Bank trialled a similar case-based NFC technology in tandem with Visa and DeviceFidelity in March, but said last month that microSD-powered cases had not met its needs and that it would move to a "wait and see" approach for NFC in the future.
Westpac is also currently conducting an internal-only trial of NFC, getting staff to trial sticker-based technology that interacts with payment readers, removing the dependency on a case and therefore making the set-up device agnostic. ZDNet Australia understands that the trial is limited to 50 staff or less, based out of Westpac's Sydney offices. National Australia Bank is yet to nail its NFC colours to the mast.
The CommBank source said that its customers are calling out for an NFC payment option.
CommBank today announced the release of new mobile and tablet apps for iPhone, iPad, Android and Windows Phone 7, and briefly lifted the curtains on its future mobile roadmap, which is set to include transactional support for foreign currency cards and greater customer segmentation. Sources familiar with the mobile strategy roadmap also revealed that the CommBank apps will have support for the NFC payment methods within three months.
Despite its aggressive move towards NFC, CommBank continues to push forward with its contactless card strategy, powering up retailers around the country with tap-and-go-style facilities for existing MasterCard PayPass and Visa payWave customers.
Service station giant, Caltex, is CommBank's most recent contactless partner, installing contactless card terminals at 387 of its Star Mart fuel and convenience outlets, with another 393 planned for the end of the year.
Stay tuned to ZDNet Australia for an in-depth look at today's announcement of CommBank's new mobile offerings.