Australian Apple Pay-avoiding banks announce their own Beem mobile wallet

Westpac, NAB, and CBA have created a joint venture to take a new wallet to iOS and Android devices later this year.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

Three of Australia's largest banks -- Westpac, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), and the National Australia Bank (NAB) -- have continued to ignore Apple Pay and announced a new joint venture named Beem that is charged with developing a mobile wallet for iOS and Android users.

According to the banks, customers will be able to use the app regardless of which bank they use, including organisations outside of the trio, with the end goal to be creating an "industry-wide payment solution".

Westpac chief executive of Consumer Bank George Frazis claimed the app followed in a line of "innovative" payment services in Australia, such as Eftpos.

"Customers will soon be able to 'Beem' free payments instantly using any smartphone, regardless of who they bank with and without the need to add account details," he said.

"Innovations such as Beem and wearables are leading the way in payment solutions because they're convenient, easy to use, and fit in with people's lifestyles -- we firmly believe in going to where our customers are and providing them with greater choice."

Initial user testing will be driven by CBA, with the app to have a money sending limit of AU$200 each day, and a monthly receiving limit of AU$10,000. The banks said each transaction would have "real-time fraud monitoring".

Earlier this year, the same trio of banks labelled Apple Pay alternatives "unrealistic" in the Australian market.

"These alternatives are unrealistic in Australia, which has the world's highest adoption of contactless NFC card payments and one of the world's highest iPhone market shares, particularly among customers likely to use mobile payments," the banks said in March.

"In Australia, potential mobile wallet providers other than Apple are locked out of the established payment infrastructure in respect of the clear majority of relevant customers."

The outburst formed part of the arguments made by CBA, Westpac, NAB, and Bendigo and Adelaide Bank to have regulatory approval to collectively negotiate with third-party mobile providers such as Apple on conditions relating to competition, best practice standards, and efficiency. The cartel was ultimately denied the chance to collectively negotiate by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

Following that decision, the banks have introduced a range of payment solution alternatives despite their prior derision.

Earlier this week, Westpac announced the launch of PayWear, its own payment-enabled wearable devices that allow customers to "tap and pay" without their wallet or smartphone on all contactless-enabled terminals.

CBA announced last month it will be allowing customers to make payments using their Garmin smartwatchpayments via Fitbit Ionic.

The only member of Australia's big four banks to break rank and support Apple Pay has been ANZ, which also offers Fitbit Pay, Android Pay, and Samsung Pay among its payments options.

Eftpos has climbed aboard the Apple Pay train, announcing support for iPhone maker's wallet to make in-store Eftpos mobile payments with ANZ earlier this month.

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