After arguing with the Australian consumer watchdog alongside three rival banks for access to Apple’s technology to implement its own payment capability, the National Australia Bank (NAB) has given in and launched Apple Pay the way the iPhone-maker wanted.
Ending the boycott that officially started in mid-2016, NAB customers can now use their personal or business NAB Visa credit or debit card through the Apple wallet.
“We’ve been hearing from customers that they want Apple Pay and it’s great to be able to launch this service today,” NAB chief customer experience officer Rachel Slade said.
“We’re continuing to listen to customer feedback and take action to become the bank our customers want.
“As part of our transformation we are investing significantly in our technology and digital services to support our customers to manage their money how they choose.”
NAB will be reaching out to customers that have been demanding the technology over the past 12 months, letting them know they can finally use their iPhone to pay.
NAB, alongside Westpac Banking Corporation, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) and Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, had previously joined forces to go after Apple and its control over its own near-field communication (NFC) technology.
After a few months, the group of banks reduced their demands to only seeking access to Apple’s NFC tech, annoyed that Apple did not allow other entities to have direct access to its technology.
The group had argued that access would enable them to offer their own integrated digital wallets to iPhone customers which would be in competition with Apple’s digital wallet Apple Pay — something Apple wanted to avoid.
The banks lost their fight in March 2017, with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) handing down a determination denying authorisation.
Prior to the determination from the ACCC, the banks baulked at settling for payment alternatives such as Android Pay, calling them “unrealistic” in the Australian market.
“These alternatives are unrealistic in Australia, which has the world’s highest adoption of contactless NFC card payments and one of the world’s highest iPhone market shares, particularly among customers likely to use mobile payments,” the banks said, pointing to Android penetration in the rest of the world being higher than in Australia.
“In Australia, potential mobile wallet providers other than Apple are locked out of the established payment infrastructure in respect of the clear majority of relevant customers.”
Apple had its own view on the battle, arguing that the banks’ collective application was not about access to the iPhone’s NFC technology but rather, it was an attempt to avoid paying the fees associated with using Apple Pay.
Apple noted at the time that it “will not, and cannot, agree to the terms sought by the banks”.
Up until now, NAB customers have been able to access Samsung Pay, Google Pay, and its own NAB Pay. Those that used iOS devices were instead offered a NAB PayTag sticker that could be attached to an Apple device.
The Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) launched Apple Pay back in April 2016; CBA gave in to the Cupertino giant in January this year; and rounding out the big four, Westpac instead has launched its own “designer” wearable payments accessories.