The service, named Westpac Tap On Phone, will offer credit or debit card tap and go payments through Android phones or tablets. The bank is teaming with tech company Quest Payment Systems for the ‘Airpay TAP’ technology. Westpac’s app has been certified with both Visa and Mastercard, and is awaiting accreditation from eftpos. The service is set to launch early next year. Westpac Tap On Phone will not be available through Apple devices, due to the company preventing use of its near field communications chip, the technology that communicates with cards, unless routed through its own digital wallet.
By enabling businesses to take payments through Android phones without the need for any additional hardware, Westpac is tackling the expanding digital payments market. Westpac is unmistakably going after Square, whose tap-and-go terminals have revolutionised the small business market and reduced the large banks’ own merchant acquisitions. They also intend to challenge Apple’s dominance in the field of electronic payments.
“It is important that gatekeeper digital platforms that both control and compete in related markets ensure a level playing field on their platform and do not exploit their rule-setting powers to extract inflated prices or to unfairly restrict competition,” the ACCC said. “Concerns about this conduct and the potential implications for competition in payments and financial services markets have been raised in a number of recent government, parliamentary and regulatory reviews in Australia.”
As it stands, Apple Pay represents 40 per cent of all tap-and-go payments, and 80 per cent of all payments made through digital wallets in Australia. On top of this, Apple is planning its own Tap To Play service on iPhones, which it announced earlier this year. This market dominance, coupled with its reluctance to open its NFC technology to third-parties, has seen the company in the crosshairs of the ACCC. Apple’s monopoly over its own near field technology may constitute a “refusal to deal”, according to ACCC.
“Like many areas of the digital economy where proposals to ensure open and fair access are canvassed to unlock value for the economy as a whole, fair, reasonable and open access to mobile device ecosystems will deliver increased value for Australians in the financial services and payments sectors.”
A number of the banks have called for Apple to be part of the ePayments Code, administered by ASIC. As digital platforms’ role in payments and financial services continue to evolve, strong competition will be crucial to ensure that the many benefits that flow from these technologies result in better consumer outcomes,” Commonwealth Bank said last month, in a submission to the ACCC. ”However, this surge in digital payment services coincides with incomplete and inconsistent regulatory treatment of those services, with some providers operating outside of the existing formal and self-regulatory frameworks that govern payment systems in Australia.