CommBank uses HCE to expand Tap & Go to all Android phones

In the next evolution phase of the CommBank app, it is expanding Tap & Go payments to all Android phones using Host Card Emulation technology.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia has given its mobile banking app another update, this time to enable customers to make Tap & Go payments on any Android phone with near-field communication (NFC) running KitKat 4.4 and above.

The Host Card Emulation (HCE)-based technology replaces the need for customers to purchase a physical PayTag to make tap and go payments with their smartphone. Previously, the physical card was required for those who did not own a Samsung Galaxy S4 or S5, which were the only smartphones on the market that supported NFC "tap and pay" technology.

CommBank originally launched its support for NFC payments on the mobile app in October 2013. This was around the same time that the app was relaunched.

Since the relaunch of the app in late 2013, more than AU$100 billion in payments and transfers have been made. There are now also 3.2 million CommBank app registered users, a number that has nearly doubled in the last 12 months from 1.76 million. This has resulted in 100 billion transactions being processed through the app in the last year.

Additionally, the bank said it has reached a new "tipping point", where more customers are logging into CommBank via the app than on their desktop each week.

Lisa Frazier, Commonwealth Bank executive general manager digital channels, said that since the inception of the app up to where it is today, the traction that the bank has witnessed is evidence of Australia's hunger for technology and mobile banking solutions.

"I think we know from just the contactless card usage in Australia we are far more advanced; we're actually leading the world as a percentage per capita. So it's definitely we are that hungry. We actually lead mobile penetration of banking customer basis in this country, so from global benchmarking, we see Australia leading the way," she said.

Frazier added that the uptake of the app has been due to a combination of reasons.

"Smartphones becoming more prevalent, people being more busy and getting familiar with mobile banking, and the ease, desire, and simplicity of the CommBank app all coming together to make people feel that this is a great way to do banking. With our security and 100 percent guarantee, they also feel the confidence to do it," she said.

"So it's what people see when they think digital; they are starting to think about the phone."

The original CommBank app, previously known as the Kaching app, was launched in 2011 to provide basic banking tools such as peer-to-peer payment. Frazier believes that the app has since evolved into a wallet.

"We now have more account information, more features like the international transfer feature, so it's becoming a more holistic offering than what it was even just 12 months ago," she said.

Frazier said the bank's ability to introduce ongoing features to the app, and in such faster time frames, has been made possible by the company's revamp of its core banking platform, which was undertaken in 2008.

In separate news, Commonwealth Bank announced that it has chosen IRESS as its advice technology partner for the group's wealth management advice business. As part of this, the bank will leverage IRESS' XPLAN platform to bring a unified solution across multiple customer advice needs. The rollout of the platform is due to commence during 2016.