St George testing mobile payments

St George is using its position within the greater Westpac group to test a variety of different mobile contactless payment technologies, the bank revealed today.

St George is using its position within the greater Westpac group to test a variety of different mobile contactless payment technologies, the bank revealed today.

(dragon image by devra, CC BY 2.0)

Speaking to ZDNet Australia about the launch of a new financial planning app for Apple's iOS platform, Travis Tyler, head of mobile channels for St George, confirmed that the bank is working hard on a mobile payments initiative for its increasingly connected customer base.

"We are working on mobile payments," Tyler said this afternoon.

"We're working within Westpac, and using the multi-brand strategy to lay more bets. It means we can learn a lot quicker, and it helps us form the direction quicker across the bank," he added.

Contactless payment trials have taken many different forms in the Australian banking sector over recent years, including the sticker technology trials underway within Westpac, the microSD card-powered case trials within ANZ and the integrated NFC handset trials between Telstra and the National Australia Bank (NAB).

The Commonwealth Bank is the latest to try its hand at commercially available contactless payments, with the new Kaching app and its proprietary iCarte case for the iPhone.

Tyler wouldn't be drawn on the specific technology that St George is currently testing internally, confirming only that under the multi-brand strategy, the bank is throwing a variety of different technologies at the wall to see what sticks.

As a result, Tyler wouldn't say whether the contactless mobile payment facilities would be ready for a 2012 launch. He did reveal part of St George's mobile roadmap, however, saying that the bank wants to put as much functionality into its mobile apps this year to cater for the increasing number of mobile-only customers.

According to Tyler, 25,000 customers are already mobile-only customers, something he sees as an opportunity.

"We have this emerging segment of customers, and a window into the future of how younger people are banking; 75 per cent [of the 25,000] are below 35, for example. These consumers are abandoning 'waking-hour banking', and that's why we're extending services to mobile," he said.

St George customers can already open accounts on the go using their mobile, and, according to Tyler, will soon be able to report a card as lost or stolen using only the mobile apps, and will even get help moving into or purchasing their first home in the coming months.

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