Australia leads the way when it comes to embracing contactless payments, with around one-third of all point-of-sale transactions using “tap and go” contactless cards in 2016, according to a study by the Reserve Bank of Australia.
Digital wallets – which allow you to tap your phone instead of your card – have been slower to take off in Australia’s contactless payments revolution. However, with the big banks investing more in this technology and Australian consumers championing the convenience of contactless payments, digital wallets could replace our overstuffed physical wallets completely.
These are the contactless payment options Australia’s four major banks – CBA, Westpac, NAB and ANZ – are offering their customers.
Contactless payment technologies offered by the Big Four banks
|Device ||Payment option||CBA||NAB||Westpac||ANZ|
|Debit card||payWave or PayPass|
|Smartphone||Apple Pay (iOS only)|
|Smartphone||Samsung Pay (Samsung only)|
|Smartphone||Google Pay (Android only)|
|Smartphone||Tap and Pay (Android only)|
|Smartphone||PayTag (all phones)|
*Note: Westpac PayWear can only be used by Westpac customers.
The above table is a snapshot of the contactless payment solutions offered by Westpac, NAB, CBA and ANZ. We’ll explore each of these payment options in more detail later in this guide.
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Compare Big Four bank accounts with contactless payment options
What exactly are contactless payments?
Contactless payments allow you to purchase products or services with a credit card, debit card or smartphone without the need to swipe your card or provide a PIN or signature. To do so, it uses something called near-field communication (NFC) technology – a short-range wireless technology that securely transmits information between a bank card or smartphone and a contactless-enabled checkout terminal.
To make a contactless payment, a person simply needs to tap or wave their card or phone near a contactless terminal – which is why it is commonly referred to as “tap and go”.
However, because contactless payments do not require a PIN or signature, transaction sizes are limited. In Australia, transactions must be under $100. You can still tap your contactless card or smartphone for transactions over $100 but you will also need to enter your card PIN on the merchant's terminal.
What is the difference between a contactless card and digital wallet?
Contactless cards and digital wallets are both forms of contactless payments. Contactless cards use Mastercard PayPass or Visa payWave technology to make payments for products and services without the need to swipe your card or provide a PIN or signature.
Digital wallets replace your physical bank cards altogether with an app on your smartphone which stores all your banking details.
Both forms of contactless payments employ the same NFC technology and digital wallets are all encrypted with the same type of fraud detection and payment protection used on debit and credit cards.
An added benefit of a digital wallet is you can make purchases online without entering your card details every time – you can simply log into your digital wallet account and buy things with a single password.
What digital wallet apps are available?
The three main digital wallet options in Australia are Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Google Pay.
The three are similar in design but are built for different smartphone operating systems – iOS, Android and Samsung. The main difference is the breadth of support – which banks are compatible with and support each system.
What does Commonwealth Bank offer?
A CommBank debit card with PayPass looks just like any other card apart from a small contactless logo on the front of it. This means the wireless technology is built into the plastic to securely transact with a contactless reader, allowing you to tap your card and go.
All new CommBank debit Mastercards will come equipped with PayPass. If you’ve got an older card, you can upgrade to a new card online through your online banking account or by going in-store.
Australia’s largest bank does support Google Pay for contactless payments on Android devices. However, in order to use it with a CommBank card, you need to download the CommBank mobile app and select “Tap & Pay”, rather than the usual Google Pay mobile app.
CommBank does not currently support Apple Pay for contactless payments on iOS devices. However, you can tap and go using an iPhone by purchasing a PayTag via the CommBank app for a one-off fee of $2.99 and sticking it on the back of your phone.
To make a payment, simply place the back of your phone with your CommBank PayTag against the reader until it beeps. It will work underneath a phone cover.
CommBank card holders with compatible Samsung smartphones can load their credit and debit card details and make secure contactless payments through the Samsung Pay app. When you’re at the register, just swipe up on your phone, authenticate with your Samsung Pay pin and place your phone on the payment terminal.
CommBank supports contactless payments on the go with Fitbit Pay and Garmin Pay, allowing compatible Fitbit and Garmin wearables to double as a digital wallet.
Fitbit Pay is compatible with Fitbit Ionic and certain versions of Fitbit Versa. Just add your debit or credit card to the app, hold your watch over the payment terminal and when prompted enter your four-digit watch PIN code.
Garmin Pay is compatible with certain vívoactive and Forerunner smartwatches. To tap and go, just access the Garmin Pay app, enter your passcode, select the right card from your virtual wallet and then hold your wrist near the card reader.
What does NAB offer?
A NAB debit card with payWave will feature a small contactless logo on the front of the card. This means the chip that enables the contactless payment to work is built into the plastic to securely connect with a contactless reader from a few centimetres away.
All new NAB Visa debit cards will come with payWave already set up and ready to go. If you’ve got an older card, you can request a new one from NAB online or by going into a branch.
NAB does support contactless payments for Android users through the Google Pay mobile app, in addition to its own tap and pay system for Android phones, NAB Pay. NAB Pay is part of the NAB app, so there’s no need to download a separate app, just click on NAB Pay on the home screen.
To use Google Pay, just unlock your smartphone at the register and wave it over the payment terminal and wait for the prompts – no need to open the app.
NAB customers with a debit or credit card can link their card to the Apple Pay app and make contactless purchases with their Apple device. This included Apple phones and Apple Watches.
NAB customers with compatible Samsung smartphones can tap and go using the Samsung Pay app. Once set up, a simple swipe up from the bottom of your home screen will give access to your NAB Visa card. All you will need to do then is authenticate with your Samsung Pay pin and place your phone on the payment terminal.
NAB also supports contactless payments on the go with Fitbit Pay and Garmin Pay, allowing compatible Fitbit and Garmin wearables to double as a digital wallet. See how to use these wearables here.
What does Westpac offer?
A Westpac debit card with PayPass will have a small contactless logo on the front of the card. This means the card is all set up and ready for you to make tap and go payments.
All new Westpac debit Mastercards will come with PayPass, but if you’ve got an old card you can simply request a new one be sent to you in the mail. Alternatively, if you drop into a Westpac branch they should be able to give you a new card on the spot.
Android users with Westpac can take advantage of contactless payments with Google Pay by adding eligible Westpac debit or credit cards to the mobile app purchased through the Google Play store.
You don’t even need to open your Google Pay app at the register. Just unlock your smartphone and wave it over the payment terminal and wait for the prompts.
Westpac card holders with compatible Samsung smartphones can load their credit and debit card details and make secure contactless payments through the Samsung Pay app. To make a payment, just swipe up to unlock your phone and authorise the payment by entering your PIN. Then just place your smartphone above the terminal.
Westpac does not currently support Apple Pay for contactless payments on iOS devices but the major bank does have its own range of wearables, Westpac PayWear.
PayWear is a chip linked to your chosen Westpac everyday bank account, for example the Westpac Choice account. The chip can be attached to your current watch or fitness band, or be inserted into a PayWear wristband (sold separately by Westpac). Westpac PayWear starts at $4.95 for its Essentials starter pack, which includes the chip and a “keeper” for attaching it to an existing watch or fitness band.
To use, just tap your PayWear wherever contactless payments are accepted and the transaction will be debited from your chosen everyday bank account.
Westpac also supports contactless payments on the go with Fitbit Pay allowing compatible Fitbit wearables to double as a digital wallet. See how to use these wearables here.
What does ANZ offer?
An ANZ debit card with payWave will feature a small contactless logo on the front of the card. You don’t need to do anything to enable the contactless payment function to work, just start tapping your card at the terminal for transactions below $100. All new ANZ Visa debit cards will come equipped with payWave.
ANZ does offer contactless payments for Android users through the Google Pay mobile app. To use Google Pay, just unlock your smartphone at the register and wave it over the payment terminal and wait for the prompts – no need to open the app.
ANZ Mobile Pay
This is ANZ’s own tap and pay system for Android phones, which can be downloaded for free from the Google Play store. Once your credit or debit card details have been loaded, there is no need to unlock your phone when at the cash register – just wake your phone by pressing the home button and tap.
ANZ Mobile Pay also allows users to withdraw money at contactless-enabled ANZ ATMs without inserting a card. This feature is known as cardless cash.
ANZ is the only major bank that supports contactless payments through Apple Pay on iOS devices. This means ANZ customers with iPhones can download Apple Pay from the Apple Store and store their bank details in their smartphone by adding their card directly to the Apple Pay mobile app using their camera or by manually entering details.
To use Apple Pay, just hold your finger on the Touch ID button of your smartphone and hover your phone over the payment terminal. If you have Face ID, double click the side button, glance at your screen to authenticate, then hold your phone over the payment terminal.
ANZ card holders with compatible Samsung smartphones or smartwatches can add their bank card details to the Samsung Pay app in order to make secure contactless payments using the digital wallet. You don’t need to log in to your ANZ mobile banking to make a payment; instead just swipe up, enter your Samsung Pay pin and place your phone on the payment terminal. Easy!
ANZ supports contactless payments on the go with Fitbit Pay and Garmin Pay, allowing compatible Fitbit and Garmin wearables to double as a digital wallet. See how to use these wearables here.