Commonwealth Bank, Westpac and National Australia Bank announced today that the free app would make it possible for anyone to make an instant payment using their smartphone, and request payment from someone who owes them money or to split a bill.
The trio have expressed the hope that Beem will become an an industry-wide payment solution, and say they are open to interest from other banks, industry, and retail players.
The four big banks had joined up with Adelaide and Bendigo Bank to try and negotiate as one with Apple over the Apple Pay system. After numerous false starts, ANZ split off and cut its own deal with Apple in April last year.
The new app will be available for both Android and iOS and is expected to be ready for download before the end of the year.
It will have an initial sending limit of $200 per day ($6000 per month) and a a monthly receiving limit of $10,000 as an initial risk control measure.
Beem will be available to all bank customers and small businesses that hold a global scheme debit card issued by an Australian Authorised Deposit-taking Institution.
It will have bank-level security and encrypted user account information. Every transaction will be authenticated and subject to real-time fraud monitoring.
Commonwealth Bank group executive of Retail Banking Services, Matt Comyn, said: “Two thirds of small businesses say they are owed money for completed work, with around $7300 owed to small traders. Beem will give small businesses a cost-effective and easy way to collect payments instantly and on the go for their goods and services, without having to take the larger leap into using merchant credit facilities, or issuing invoices to be paid later.
Westpac chief executive, Consumer Bank, George Frazis, said: “We are committed to giving our customers more choice by supporting a range of convenient ways for them to pay and transfer their money.
"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. 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.
NAB chief operating officer Antony Cahill said: “Think about all the times you’ve gone out for dinner and split the bill – this app will make it easy for Australians to pay their family and friends instantly.
"Or, when you go to the local market and need to pay the butcher – this means instant payment through your phone. This is the industry working together to deliver an innovative payments solution, no matter who you bank with."