Decoding ANZ's NFC smoke signals

Summary:ANZ Bank and Visa today issued a joint statement saying how much the bank's 50 staff loved their recent trial of a microSD-powered, Near Field Communication payments system, despite the bank saying on Monday that the microSD technology had not met all of its needs. We take a leaf out of the national broadcaster's book and investigate.

ANZ Bank and Visa today issued a joint statement saying how much the bank's 50 staff loved their recent trial of a microSD-powered, Near Field Communication (NFC) payments system, despite the bank saying on Monday that the microSD technology had not met all of its needs. We take a leaf out of the national broadcaster's book and investigate.

Near-field communication 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.

In March, ANZ Bank kicked off a trial with Visa of NFC-based mobile payments for 50 of its staff in Sydney and Melbourne.

In the trial, a microSD card pre-programmed with a user's banking details was inserted into an NFC-enabled phone case, which fit around an iPhone. Users could then open an app on the phone to be used in conjunction with Visa PayWave readers.

On Monday, ANZ told ZDNet Australia that while users of the trial NFC gear had responded well to the idea of mobile payments, the use of microSD-enabled cases hadn't entirely lived up to its expectations.

"We have found in our research that our participants strongly supported contactless payment as a convenient way to pay, but the microSD technology did not meet all of our requirements," ANZ said in a statement.

"At this stage, we will not be progressing with microSD as a contactless payment technology platform, but we will continue to look for ways to support contactless payments in the market."

Cut to today, when ANZ Bank issued a joint statement (PDF) with mobile payments partner Visa, saying that the trial had been wildly successful.

In a joint statement, ANZ and Visa said that close to 80 per cent of trial participants would take up a microSD-enabled Visa payWave chip if they could.

So why would ANZ say the trial microSD technology hadn't met its expectations when staff on the trial seem to love it so much?

ANZ Bank said that the quotes it had provided on Monday were never meant to see the light of day, having not been signed off in the first place.

That's possible — but where did these quotes come from? Why would someone write these revelations down and put it where it could be easily found if there wasn't truth in them?

The only good news we can draw out of this farce, is that both ANZ Bank and Visa remain committed to NFC in the future.

"Overall, we found the trial extremely useful as it confirmed that customers like to use contactless for low-value transactions under $100. Contactless is an extremely exciting piece of innovative technology and we're looking forward to seeing how we can implement it for our customers in the future," ANZ said both on Monday and again today.

Watch the video for more withering observations.

Topics: Android, Apple, Google, Mobility

About

A fresh recruit onto the tech journalism battlefield, Luke Hopewell is eager to see some action. After a tour of duty in the belly of the Telstra beast, he is keen to report big stories on the enterprise beat. Drawing on past experience in radio, print and magazine, he plans to ask all the tough questions you want answered.

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