Apple Pay vice president Jennifer Bailey has responded to the legal dispute taking place between Apple and the major Australian banks, in an interview with AFR.com. Bailey revealed that participating customers in Australia use the contactless payment service more frequently than any other country, and that the holdout banks do not fully understand the benefits of Apple Pay yet.
Bailey says customers are prepared to switch banks in order to use Apple Pay, which should help Apple wield its bargaining power. In fact, a handful of smaller Australian banks have signed up to Apple Pay as of today …
The following Australian institutions now support Apple Pay for contactless purchases: Australian Unity, Catalyst Money, Customs Bank, Horizon Credit Union, Laboratories Credit Union Ltd, Nexus Mutual, Northern Beaches Credit Union, The Rock, and UniBank. Apple has also announced that Macquarie Bank and ING Direct will support Apple Pay before the end of the month.
Although slightly ambiguous, Bailey’s claims that Australian Apple users depend on Apple Pay more often than users in any other country must be comparing typical customers on a bank that supports the service. Total usage of Apple Pay is low as major banks refuse to sign up. They have reported Apple to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission for behaving unfairly.
ANZ Banking Group is the only major financial institution cooperating with Apple in the country. The others are deep in a legal battle claiming Apple is unfairly monopolizing contactless payments services on the iPhone. The banks have requested access to the NFC hardware inside iOS devices so they can run their own competing services; Apple refused. The case is ongoing.
Bailey says that all banks around the world have agreed to use Apple Pay on the same terms and that giving special privileges to the NFC hardware to Australian institutions would undermine the security model of the iPhone.
Bailey says the legal process has prevented a reasonable discussion about the service’s merits from happening. She seems confident that the banks will eventually sign on once the legal duress is put to rest.
“While initially, in many markets, there have been banks that have initially been wary about working with a company as large as Apple, once they begin to work with us and understand the Apple Pay platform, they see the benefits of it. That hasn’t fully happened with the ACCC applicants, because the conversation is happening through the ACCC process, compared to what normally happens, which is we have the conversation bilaterally.”
A draft verdict in the legal case rejected the idea that Apple was holding an unfair competitive advantage over the banks, but a conclusive judgement is not expected until March. In the meantime, some smaller banks in Australia are signing up like those listed above.
Apple Pay was first introduced with the iPhone 6 in 2014, allowing users to tap to pay at supporting merchants and points of sale. All iPhones sold today support contactless payments with hundreds of banks signed on to the service in the United States, Canada, UK, France, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, Australia, China, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand and Singapore.
Apple Pay is also available in apps on newer iPads and Touch ID payments came to the Mac with the new MacBook Pro. With iOS 10, loyalty and reward cards can also be stored in the Wallet app and activated via Apple Pay.