The National Australia Bank (NAB) has put its own innovation agenda ahead of co-operation with BPAY, Westpac, Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Australian New Zealand Banking Group, by officially walking away from the Me and My Bank Online (MAMBO) payment project today.
The MAMBO project kicked off in 2007, with the big four banks and BPAY teaming up in the hope of enabling individuals to register for their own BPAY codes for online payments. Individual BPAY codes would allow customers to create a single payment identity when dealing with funds online, meaning that moving between banks would no longer affect regularly scheduled payments, for example.
NAB told ZDNet Australia today that ongoing delays coupled with high financial risk had forced the bank's hand.
"In the past six months, NAB has become concerned with the status of the MAMBO industry project, and the ability of the project to deliver real customer benefits in a timely manner.
"It is NAB's view that the current MAMBO project environment is one of increasing costs, growing delays and heightened execution risk. At this investment level, we believe the project should deliver clearer customer benefits than what MAMBO currently projects," the bank said in a statement today.
The bank said that the ongoing cost of developing MAMBO with the other big four banks would impair its ability to invest in new payment innovations.
"NAB believes that the high industry investment cost associated with participating in the MAMBO project will impact NAB's ability to invest in innovation that we believe will provide clearer and timelier customer benefits," it said today.
Sources familiar with NAB's technology plans told The Australian Financial Review that the bank is "totally occupied" with its core banking replacement project, which NAB CEO Cameron Clyne said would deliver key results by Christmas this year.
NAB's decision to walk away from the MAMBO project has affected the other banks, with ANZ indicating today that its commitment is wavering in light of the decision.
"We will assess the implications of this decision, and discuss the situation with other participants and decide from there how best to manage our position," ANZ told ZDNet Australia today.
Commonwealth Bank and Westpac, on the other hand, are still gung-ho on the project.
"CBA is absolutely committed to the project. We and the remaining BPAY stakeholders continue to work on developing MAMBO," CommBank said today.
"Our position is unchanged, we continue to believe in the customer benefits of the project," Westpac head of corporate affairs Paul Marriage said.
The ambitious project has been cited by the Reserve Bank in its review into payments system innovation as an alternative to account number portability, but it hit a wall for 12 months in 2009, and has since struggled to get off the ground.
BPAY revealed today that it's still considering the impact of NAB's decision to walk away.
"BPAY [is] reviewing the implications for its MAMBO project, following the decision by NAB to withdraw from the project," BPAY said in a statement.
The payment firm's acting CEO Mark Williams is set to hold talks with other MAMBO stakeholders to discuss the implications of NAB's decision in the coming weeks.