Apple bans Westpac’s mobile payments feature

Alison Banney 26 June 2017

Always available

The tech giant has pulled the pin on Westpac’s Keyboard feature, which allowed customers to make payments through Snapchat, Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger.

The ongoing tension between one of Australia’s biggest banks and global technology giant Apple has been ramped up to a whole new level.

Apple has banned Westpac’s mobile payments feature, which allowed customers to make payments through popular messaging apps including Snapchat, Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger.

While it's confirmed that Apple has ordered Westpac to remove the mobile payments feature, it is yet to be confirmed what the exact reasoning is for this shock decision.

Westpac has confirmed with its customers that the recently-launched Keyboard feature would be removed from July, despite it already being installed by tens of thousands of customers.

“This is disappointing for us and the thousands of customers who are currently using it. We apologise to our customers for any inconvenience caused and thank them for their continued support,” a Westpac spokesperson said today to the Australian Financial Review (AFR).

According to the AFR, Westpac had previously addressed security concerns with Apple, regarding the payment feature, prior to its launch in March.

The surprising decision has sparked speculation that the technology giant is planning to launch its own mobile payments keyboard and has blocked Westpac’s Keyboard to remove competition.

A source today told the AFR that “...at this stage, it really does look like an anti-competitive move from Apple, where they are just shouting 'get off my future lawn'."

The decision is a huge blow to the bank, which launched the mobile payment feature as a move to gain more millennial customers and was the first Australian bank to do so.

The decision comes only months after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) denied an application by NAB, CBA and Westpac to collectively negotiate with Apple over access to Apple Pay and the NFC contactless payments features on iPhones. This means that the banks cannot offer their own digital wallets on the iPhone and so far ANZ is the only one of the Big Four to strike a deal with Apple to offer Apple Pay to customers.

Westpac has previously expressed its anger over the Apple Pay decision, saying it prevents customer choice. “It’s essentially like barring the Google Maps GPS on the iPhone and you have to use Apple Maps, and I tell you what, you’d have a whole lot of customers that are not too happy about it,” said CEO of Westpac Consumer Bank George Frazis.

It's understood that the bank will still be offering its Keyboard feature to Android users in the coming months.

Image source: Westpac

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