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Thursday, 05 April 2012 11:01

Apple rules limit innovation


Recently minted financial services business ClearView had wanted to put a link to its website on its recently released mobile app. But Apple, which hosts the app on iTunes, wanted to take a clip of the ticket on any insurance that was then sold.

ClearView told Apple where to get off and instead put a click to call button on the app instead.

'I would have thought putting a website on the app would be OK, but no,' said Simon Swanson, ClearView managing director. Apple's stance will be familiar to other developers who have found the giant tech company generally wants a slice of any and all action.

Lawyers say it's probably not a contravention of competition legislation, but for ClearView at least it remains a barrier to innovation.

The company is at present little more than a blip on the financial services landscape, claiming 0.4 per cent of the life insurance and wealth management market.  According to Mr Swanson, the company is using technology to become a 'leader in experience' which it hopes will drive more business to its door.

He already believes that 'click to call' will be a huge advantage for the company, but was clearly disappointed that the company's plans to link to its website were thwarted by Apple.

Mr Swanson was speaking at a financial services event hosted by Joob, the mobile division of Jade Software, which has provided the middleware and some of the smarts used in ClearView's systems.

Also speaking at the event was Andrew Murrell, general manager of channel marketing for Commonwealth Bank, which also views mobile technology as increasingly important for the bank. Mr Murrell said that since it launched its first mobile app in 2008, 2.2 million copies of CBA apps have been downloaded.

Mobile access to the bank is rising across the board, and by this time next year he forecast that more people would access the Netbank website from their mobiles than from PCs. At present 35 per cent of all log-ons are from mobile platforms (up from 2 per cent two years ago.)

Besides providing a conduit for customers, mobile technologies were also important in the payments arena. Mr Murrell said that; 'Payments are going to become a battlefield not just against the banks but the likes of Google and PayPal.'

Just prior to Christmas CBA's Kaching payments app was launched in the iTunes store, along with an NFC enabled iCarte case for the iPhone allowing contactless payments to be made using the mobile.

Mr Murrell said that with a quarterly refresh cycle planned for all apps, further details about the next version of Kaching would be released shortly. He also said that an Android version of the app was currently being tested.

CBA has however already indicated that it is unlikely to offer an iCarte for Android phones.

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