NAB enables NFC payments on Android smartphones

The National Australia Bank has started rolling out contactless smartphone payments via NAB Pay, with Android-owning customers able to pay for purchases using their phone's in-built NFC transmitter.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

The National Australia Bank (NAB) has updated its mobile banking app to enable Visa Debit account holders to make tap-and-go payments.

The technology is currently limited to those with a near-field communication (NFC)-enabled Android smartphone that is running KitKat 4.4 and above.

As this is the first release of NAB Pay, the bank said future updates will make the facility available to other card types.

It also said that current restrictions apply for utilising this technology with Apple products within Australia and that it is focused on enabling payments through compatible mobile devices without the use of an additional tag.

To use NAB Pay, a user needs to ensure their phone is awake and unlocked before holding it up to a card reader to complete the payment. When the phone detects the terminal it will show a "transaction in progress" screen.

Users can also add another layer of security to this which requires a password to be entered within the NAB app before physically tapping their phone against a reader.

As with many other tap-and-go payment transactions, purchases of AU$100 or more will need to be accompanied by a PIN on the merchant terminal.

NAB Pay is the first instance of Visa tokenisation in Australia, with Stephen Karpin, Visa group country manager for Visa in Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific, saying that Australian consumers are ready for the next wave of digital payments.

"Visa's approach to security consists of multiple layers. If a fraudster gets past one door, they'll find the one behind it is locked. What tokenisation does is add another layer of protection, which is important as payments become increasingly digital and mobile. As payments evolve, security has to evolve with it," he said.

"Australians have proven to be a nation of early adopters with respect to payments innovation, with almost seven in 10 face-to-face Visa transactions now made using Visa Paywave, setting the scene for a move to mobile."

The Visa Token Service is a security technology that replaces sensitive payment account information, such as the 16-digit account number, expiration date, and security code, with a unique digital "token" that can be used to process payments without exposing any account details.

For security purposes, Visa said all tokenised cards are linked to a customer's mobile or an application that is validated via VisaNet in real-time

Visa introduced tokenisation in October 2013, and first introduced its Visa Token Service last September as a feature of Apple Pay during the launch of the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, and Apple Watch.

Visa's plan to extend its token service offering was noted early last year when the company's CEO Charlie Scharf said 2015 was a year when the company would offer secure payments across a wide variety of devices, platforms, and apps.

Last month, Visa partnered with the United Overseas Bank (UOB) to launch the Visa Token Service in Singapore, which was the first country in Asia Pacific to receive the service.

Likewise with NAB Pay, the UOB implemented the Visa Token Service as part of its mobile app, UOB Mighty, which allows its UOB Visa credit or debit cardholders to make contactless payments with an NFC-enabled Android smartphone by launching the UOB Mighty app, selecting the "pay" function, entering a PIN, and tapping to pay at all NFC-enabled terminals in Singapore and overseas.

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia implemented its own tap & go payments system on NFC-enabled Android devices in October 2013. At the time, the only compatible devices that customers could use were the Samsung Galaxy S4 and S5, as they were the only smartphones on the market that supported NFC technology.

Those with another device were required to purchase an NFC-enabled sticker from the bank to attach to their phone before using the technology.

Since March last year Android-owning CBA customers could use the tap-and-go functionality on any locally purchased NFC-enabled phones running KitKat 4.4 and above.

Westpac customers have also been able to utilise their phone's inbuilt NFC to tap and pay from their compatible Android devices since April last year.

AMP Bank also activated its AMPwave technology last year to allow customers with an NFC-enabled smartphone to make purchases with their Android device.

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