Australian Banks Tell Apple: We Just Want Your NFC

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Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, National Australia Bank, and Westpac are attempting to gain permission from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to negotiate as a group for access to Apple Pay and the Near Field Communication (NFC) function on iPhones.

No, scratch that - they'd just be happy with the NFC, actually.

The group of banks has amended its application to just focus soley on the NFC function, removing the collective negotiation request on Apple which the ACCC deemed "potentially detrimental to the public".

Open NFC access has gained the support of retailers, as well as competitors.

"The applicants flatly reject Apple's unsupported assertions that the application is about an objection to the fees that Apple wishes to impose, rather than NFC access," the banks said in a statement. "Apple's conspiracy theories about 'Trojan horse fees' are similarly dismissed by the applicants as fantasy."

"Apple recorded over $US7 billion in services revenue, which includes Apple Pay fees, from their customers in the last 3 months of 2016 alone, and hopes to double that over the next four years," the statement continues, "With their services business set to become the size of a standalone Fortune 100 company this year, Apple is the leading expert on deriving fee revenues from iPhone users, not the applicants."

Payments specialist and spokesperson on behalf of the applicants, Lance Blockley, said the banks are ready, willing, and able to participate in Apple Pay, alongside being able to offer their customers their own mobile wallet products.

"This application has always been about consumer choice, and allowing competition between the makers of mobile wallets to offer the best products and features they can to determine which mobile wallet consumers will use," Blockley says, "The applicants want to put up their digital offerings head to head with Apple Pay, and let the market and individual consumers decide which best suits their needs"

According to Blockley, open access to the NFC function "as occurs on the world's most popular and widely installed mobile operating system Android "is important not just to the applicants and mobile payments "but to a range of NFC-powered functions across many sectors and uses".

"This has global implications for the use of NFC on smart phones," Blockley says.

Blockley reinforces that the permission to jointly negotiate with Apple "is not an attempt to delay Apple Pay" from entering the Australian market, stating the banks understand and expect that Apple Pay would be offered to their customers alongside open access to the NFC function.

"Any delay or frustration will be as a result of Apple refusing to negotiate," Blockley says.

"Apple is not a bank or a credit card scheme, and Apple cannot on their own complete a mobile payment. Nor are the applicants manufacturers of mobile phones – both parties need each other to bring strong mobile payment offerings to the market."

The full submission can be read here.

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