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CBA prepared to play ball with Apple

CBA prepared to play ball with Apple

(6 December 2016 - Australia) Australia’s largest lender, Commonwealth Bank (CBA) is open to paying technology giant and emerging mobile payment powerhouse, Apple a fee for use of the company’s smartphone payment platform.

The bank, however, continues to request use and access of the iPhone's near-field communication technology for its own app.

Following the Australian Consumer Commission’s denial of major banks’ request to collectively bargain with Apple, CBA’s head of retail, Matt Comyn said the level of fees were not a hurdle in the negotiations.

"If we could get access to the NFC antenna and our wallet had the same experience [as Apple Pay] on parity, there is no way the interchange fee, as currently contemplated, would be the stumbling block," Comyn said.

The bank’s workaround for customers using Apple smartphones has been a “PayTag” sticker, that they’re required to purchase for A$2.99. The sticker, which acts as an NFC antenna has not been widely used by CBA customers. According to Comyn, although 400,000 CBA customers have been issued with  PayTags, they bank only registers 400,000 transactions per month have been made using them.

"We would like it to be resolved," Comyn said

"It is falsely attributed to it being about the interchange fee. It's not. For us, it is about, and our customers tell us, they see the bank app and the wallet as the primary place that they would like to make payments ... We think it is important that customers have choice. There should be the ability to have multiple wallets.

"Payments continues to be at the heart of the user experience ... The ability to pay with the app or wallet remains a strategic priority for us."

In a media briefing, Comyn said over the last year, the bank has "more customers who are digital only, less who are branch only” while a combination of the two was still growing.

He added that in 2017, CBA will be introducing new barcode technology in ATMs that will allow small business customers to improve cash handling and reconciliation processes by allowing approved staff or contractors to deposit cash. Comyn added that this could reduce costs associated with handling cash by 40 percent.

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