Monday, 13 February 2017 11:54

Apple Pay: Banks say they only want access to NFC Featured

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A group of Australian banks, which have applied to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission for leave to jointly talk to Apple about gaining access to Apple Pay and the near field communication (NFC) on iPhones, have modified their demands, stating that they only want open access to the NFC function.

The group — National Australia Bank, Commonwealth Bank, Westpac and the Bendigo and Adelaide Bank — have reacted to the ACCC's concerns by removing collective negotiation on the potential to pass through additional fees Apple places on the payment system and limiting the authorisation term to 18 months.

In December, the ACCC said it was leaning towards denying the banks the right to negotiate with Apple as a cartel.

The banks initially sought permission from the ACCC to negotiate with Apple jointly in July last year. Since then there has been much talk back and forth, with neither side willing to budge.

The ANZ, also one of the big four banks, cut a deal with Apple on its own and started offering Apple Pay in April.

The Commonwealth Bank tried in December to cut a deal by itself but was knocked back.

In the interim, Apple Pay has been taken up by institutions like CUA and MyState Bank.

In today's statement, the banks rejected Apple's assertions that the application is about an objection to the fees that Apple wishes to impose, rather than NFC access.

Lance Blockley, a spokesman for the banks, said, "The applicants are ready, willing, and able to participate in Apple Pay, alongside being able to offer their customers their own mobile wallet products.

"Open access to the NFC function, as occurs on the world's most popular and widely installed mobile operating system Android, is important not just to the applicants and mobile payments, but to a range of NFC-powered functions across many sectors and uses. This has global implications for the use of NFC on smartphones.

"The application seeks permission to jointly negotiate with Apple; this is not an attempt to delay Apple Pay from entering the Australian market. The applicants expect that Apple Pay would be offered to their customers alongside open access to the NFC function. Any delay or frustration will be as a result of Apple refusing to negotiate.

"Apple is not a bank or a credit card scheme, and Apple cannot on their own complete a mobile payment. Nor are the applicants manufacturers of mobile phones – both parties need each other to bring strong mobile payment offerings to the market."

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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