Apple Pay Wars: Banks say customers don’t trust Apple

Angus Kidman 15 November 2016

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"No evidence has been advanced."

In the Punch and Judy battle between Apple and Australia's major banks over who can gain access to contactless payment functions on iPhones, it's the banks' turn to take a swing. Last week, Apple accused the banks of only being interested in stifling competition. Now the banks have handily described Apple's arguments about security as "lacking evidence".

While there's much retreading of existing arguments, two points stand out in the latest submission by CommBank, NAB, Westpac and Adelaide & Bendigo Bank to the ACCC.

Firstly, the banks don't seem too impressed with Apple's argument that banks can potentially access NFC contactless functions for their own mobile wallet apps via Apple Pay, a facility which Apple will charge them for. "While any additional integration or linking possibilities are useful, this is not a substitute for genuine access to the NFC functionality and does not allow for any real competition with Apple Pay." Such a solution would, the banks claim, be slower, more expensive for merchants, and provide less opportunities for genuine innovation and differentiation.

Those seem reasonable (though not definitive) arguments, but the most convincing is probably this: "there is a large customer segment that would prefer a financial institution rather than a technology company to be trusted with their payments". Yep, some people trust their bank more than they trust Apple. I'm sure the reverse is also true, but having a choice either way would be nice.

On the security front, the banks have (as you'd expect) rejected Apple's claim, which we've heard a number of times, that any access to NFC features would compromise security. "No evidence has been advanced to support the suggestion that providing access to the NFC function would affect the security of any mobile wallet or mobile payment system available on the iPhone." In particular, the submission notes that since Apple individually approves every app that's available for the iPhone, it could block any app that raised security concerns.

If you're thinking that a lot of this resembles toddlers saying "You suck! No, you suck more!", I'm inclined to agree. Whatever the regulator decides (a decision is due this month), squabbling doesn't result in better services for consumers.

Angus Kidman's Findings column looks at new developments and research that help you save money, make wise decisions and enjoy your life more. It appears Monday through Friday on finder.com.au.

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