Denied! ACCC won’t let Big 4 banks negotiate over Apple Pay

Angus Kidman 29 November 2016

ApplePayBattle_Shutterstock

The regulator has rejected an approach from CommBank, NAB and Westpac.

OK, so it doesn't look like any of Australia's big four banks other than ANZ will be offering Apple Pay on their cards any time soon.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has rejected an application by Commonwealth Bank, NAB, Westpac and Adelaide and Bendigo Bank to be allowed to jointly negotiate with Apple for access to Apple Pay and to the NFC chip on iPhones used for contactless payments. Such collective negotiations are normally banned under competition law.

"This is currently a finely balanced decision," ACCC chairman Rod Sims said in a statement. "The ACCC is not currently satisfied that the likely benefits from the proposed conduct outweigh the likely detriments."

"Digital wallets and mobile payments are in their infancy and subject to rapid change. In Australia, consumers are used to making tap and go payments with payment cards, which provide a very quick and convenient way to pay. It is therefore uncertain how competition may develop with the availability of mobile payments and possible future innovations."

The banks first applied for the right to collectively negotiate back in July. The ACCC rejected the initial request for a fast decision, and has now rejected the approach outright. Apple has argued that letting banks access NFC functions directly would be a security risk, while the banks claimed that Apple wanted to restrict competition.

Despite the decision, the battle isn't over yet. The ACCC has only issued a draft determination, and is seeking submissions before making a final decision. And should that final determination remain, it's likely the banks will lodge an appeal.

"The four banks making the application – Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, National Australia Bank, and Westpac – will continue working with the ACCC to address the issues raised in the draft determination in order to provide competition and choice for the benefit of consumers," a statement issued on their behalf noted.

Picture: Shutterstock

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