It looks like Apple Pay won’t be available in Australia any time soon, at least in banks other than ANZ and American Express. Earlier today, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) declined an application submitted by several local banks to negotiate with Apple with the technology. The four banks that submitted the request included the National Australia Bank (NAB), Commonwealth Bank, Westpac, and Bendigo and Adelaide Bank. The group was seeking to be entered into group talks with Apple so they could negotiate a deal wherein they would be given NFC hardware access available on the iPhone. Once permitted, the banks would be able to make use of Apple’s mobile payments services.
As of this writing, ANZ and American Express are the only top Australian banks that offer Apple Pay. The four banks have been trying their best to be given the nod they need to avoid violating anti-cartel laws ever since July. But so far, their requests have been officially denied by the ACCC saying that the benefits “may be limited” and are “uncertain.”
Today’s rejection comes as the second one the group has received since August. On the first denial, the ACCC chose to extend time for reconsidering the issue before a request could be granted. This would allow the banks to boycott Apple’s mobile payments services as negotiations commence. Unfortunately, the ACCC has denied both interim and draft authorization for the banks. A final ruling, however, is expected to come out in March 2017.
Apple strongly fought against the first request as it insisted the security of the iPhone would be compromised if access to hardware would be given to banks. At the same time, it would weaken customers’ privacy and potentially harm innovation. On their end, the banks claimed that NFC access would enable their customers to have more choices and could potentially provide huge benefits for the mobile payments industry in the entire country. But considering Apple recently signed a partnership with Cuscal Payments Group, it looks like Apple is not having any worries about expanding the service throughout Australia. With the partnership, Apple Pay will be available to over 30 small banks and credit unions throughout the country. Additionally, when the service launches, it should serve a potential market of four million Australians.