Apple market share forces Suncorp Bank to eschew NFC for QR codes

Suncorp Bank has chosen to use QR codes over NFC technology for simplicity as part of its new QuickShare feature of its mobile banking app, citing iOS market share as a reason to avoid contactless NFC technology.
Written by Aimee Chanthadavong, Contributor

Suncorp Bank has introduced a new feature to its mobile banking app called QuickShare that allows its customers to share their account details through SMS or QR code to be paid by both Suncorp Bank customers and non-Suncorp Bank customers.

QuickShare — launched last weekend for Android and iOS smartphone users — allows Suncorp Bank mobile app users to share their account details along with how much is owed to them through a virtual IOU via SMS to any contact on their phone. The recipient can then copy and paste the details sent to them into their banking app to pay back the sender.

The feature also allows Suncorp Bank customers to be paid in real time by other Suncorp Bank customers, by using their app to generate a QR code along with a payment request, which the payee scans to have the transaction populate within their account to approve.

Suncorp Bank's head of online Simon Clarke explained to ZDNet that QuickShare has been designed to make the mobile banking experience even simpler, and believes the use of QR code can reduce that complexity.

"The main reason we've used [QR codes] is purely because of the standardisation. With NFC, ourselves and like a lot of other banks have looked into it and it's a very complex piece of technology, and ultimately still in its infancy, especially in terms of cross platform usage," he said.

"We were a bit hesitant to go too far down the NFC path because we wanted to have something that had a high reach and was simple to use. Building this particular feature into the app and all other features is all about simplicity and usability that drives a lot of our work.

"So with QR code it has been out there but it hasn't really been used from a financial standpoint; it has only been used for marketing. After some brainstorming, the development team looked at all the bits and pieces that could be used and the QR code was a very clean way to get that cross platform usage."

Suncorp Bank, however, is not the only one relying on QR codes. As part of a recent partnership with Samsung, Bendigo Bank chose to use QR codes as part of its retail point of sale mobile payment solution, redy

But Clarke highlighted that the use of NFC technology is not being ruled out completely, although for now it's about meeting the demands of its customers.

"In terms of iOS, it still rides a lot of the market share. We've got just under 70 percent of our bank based on iOS, which makes it quite interesting for other banks to pursue contactless payment when you've still got massive market share of iOS," he said.

"Whilst we're not completely waiting around for iOS to develop that kind of technology, it does make a huge difference on building features that can be rolled out simply across all platforms."

Clarke also said it's important to continue to work on the design of its mobile banking experience, particularly as the momentum of mobile banking continues to strengthen, where for the first time last year the bank saw mobile banking outstripped desktop banking. Currently, 57 percent of Suncorp Bank customers complete online banking via mobile.

Suncorp Bank relaunched its banking app December last year and since achieved 156,000 downloads. However, Clarke notes that going forward all of its channels are equally important.

"We're seeing very strong growth with our mobile app base which we're really ecstatic about," Clarke said.

"Going forward we're putting a lot of effort into developing our mobile channel, but that said, we're still paying a lot of attention to the omni-channel platform experience, especially in banking where customers often start on a desktop, and then go on a phone, and then they've got their tablet on the couch. We still need to make sure from a general customer experience perspective we can target all platforms."

The launch aligns with Suncorp Bank's announcement in May when it said it will be dedicating an estimated AU$270 million to changing the bank's core banking system by 30 June 2016.

"We've done a lot of great work, to decouple ourselves and all the backend niggles you get so going forward we're going to have a much cleaner architecture in our core system. It will even accelerate our development faster when it comes to front end and customer facing channels."

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