Westpac customers wait as St George, BankSA, Bank of Melbourne offer Apple Pay

Only three of Westpac Group's four banking brands go live with the iPhone wallet integration.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

Westpac Group has announced the adoption of Apple Pay across a handful of its financial services providers, but actual customers of the red and white bank itself will have to wait another six months for the function.

As of Thursday, Apple Pay will be available for St George, BankSA, and Bank of Melbourne customers that have an eligible Visa debit or credit card.

Westpac Group said it has "committed to delivering Apple Pay for Westpac customers by June 2020".

"We're excited to introduce Apple Pay for St.George, Bank of Melbourne, and BankSA, as part of our commitment to changing our business to better meet the needs of our customers," Westpac Group chief executive of consumer David Lindberg said, adding that launching Apple Pay has been a priority since his appointment.

"We want to assure Westpac customers we are working to bring them Apple Pay as quickly as possible, while we rollout the technology across our different banking platforms."

Westpac, alongside the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), the National Australia Bank (NAB), and Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, had previously joined forces to go after Apple and its control over its own near-field communication (NFC) technology.

After a few months, the group of banks reduced their demands to only seeking access to Apple's NFC tech, annoyed that Apple does not allow any other entity direct access to its technology.

The group argued that access would enable them to offer their own integrated digital wallets to iPhone customers in competition with Apple's digital wallet without using Apple Pay -- something Apple wanted to avoid.

The banks lost their fight in March 2017, with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) handing down a determination denying authorisation.

Prior to the ACCC's determination, the banks baulked at settling for payment alternatives such as Android Pay, calling them "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, pointing to Android penetration in the rest of the world being higher than in Australia.

"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."

Apple had its own view on the battle, arguing to the ACCC previously that the collective application was not about access to the iPhone's NFC technology, rather, it was an attempt to avoid paying the fees associated with using Apple Pay.

Since then, both CBA and NAB have adopted the Cupertino tech, with the yellow bank making the feature live in January this year and the red and black bank caving in May.

ANZ, meanwhile, has had Apple Pay available for customers since April 2016.

Westpac is currently facing allegations from the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (Austrac), after the anti-money laundering and terrorism financing regulator last month applied to the Federal Court of Australia alleging Westpac was involved in "systemic non-compliance" with the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006 (AML/CTF Act) on over 23 million occasions..

The bank's CEO Brian Hartzer left the organisation in November in the aftermath of the Austrac allegations.


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