Australian banks in one last grapple with Apple
Four big Australian banks haven’t given up the fight to convince the country’s antitrust regulator that they get some concessions from Apple over Apple Pay.
With a decision due in a few weeks, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), National Australia Bank (NAB), Westpac, and Bendigo and Adelaide Bank may have made their final submission to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) inquiry.
The banks have scrapped all of their previous complaints about transaction fees but still want full access to the NFC (near field communications) antenna in the iPhone which interacts with contactless payment systems.
As Banking Technology reported in August and November 2016, the banks wanted to “collectively negotiate over digital wallet access to the iPhone” – with Apple biting back as you’d expect from a major player. In November, the ACCC published its draft finding and sided with Apple. ACCC chairman Rod Sims said it was “currently a finely balanced decision”.
In the banks’ latest statement to the ACCC, they say: “NFC access allows real competition and real choice for consumers.
“If the customers ultimately prefer to use the Apple Pay wallet they can. The point of the authorisation is that consumers should be allowed to make that choice – not Apple.”
Apple dismisses this idea of special access to the NFC antenna and says no other organisation in the world has such access. Its arguments use the customer and security as bargaining tools. It says opening up the NFC antenna to the banks would inconvenience customers as they’d be forced to go into the settings every time they want to switch between cards when using their iPhone. Apple also argues that opening up NFC, in the same way it is open on Android phones, would affect the system’s security.
The ACCC is expected to deliver its full decision next month.
Meanwhile, a number of other financial institutions in Australia have welcomed Apple Pay, namely ANZ, American Express and Cuscal (and its 31 member banks and credit unions). Recently, ING Direct and Macquarie Bank have also announced their support for Apple Pay.