Several of Australia’s major banks are seeking to team up in order to bolster their negotiating position against Apple as the company seeks to gain a foothold in the country for its Apple Pay mPayment platform.
Bendigo Bank, Commonwealth Bank, National Australia Bank, and Westpac have collectively asked anti-trust regulator the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) for permission to negotiate with Apple as block, seeking to get the American company to enable them to access its iPhones’ NFC technology. Effectively, they’re seeking to make Apple allow them to offer their own mPayment apps on its devices.
It’s a continuation of a long-standing standoff between Australia’s domestic banks and Apple over Apple Pay. The banks have resisted supporting the platform, largely over the issue of transaction fees; and while they argue that consumers stand to benefit from having access to more mPayment platforms on their iPhones, their opposition to Apple Pay has been called anti-competitive by at least one major politician.
Meanwhile, one major bank, ANZ, recently offered official support for Apple Pay. The Sydney Morning Herald reports that ANZ is thought to have been a part of the consortium before defecting to offer Apple Pay support. Executives at that bank seem to have perceived Apple Pay to be a rising force in the payments industry, and may have been right in their estimation: In Apple’s latest quarterly update, CEO Tim Cook asserted that the service has seen a 400 percent increase in its monthly users compared to this time last year, and AppleInsider cites Timetric data indicating that it processed about $10.9 billion in transactions last year.
Still, Apple itself hasn’t offered any hard numbers about revenues or profitability from Apple Pay, and most of Australia’s major banks are evidently betting against it for now. The ACCC is expected to announce its decision in about a month.