Apple Pay chief warns Australian banks to get behind mobile payments or risk losing customers

Apple Pay's chief, Jennifer Bailey, is sending a stern warning to five Australian banks unwilling to negotiate with the company over the nascent payment service, saying that customers will begin looking for greener, more mobile payment-friendly pastures.

In an interview with Australia's Financial Review newspaper, Bailey said that the banks don't understand the value proposition of Apple Pay, and that by ostensibly paying lip service to their customers by demanding access to the iPhone's NFC chip, they are missing an important opportunity.

The banks are fighting Apple because they are concerned about the tech giant's ability to capture the market for digital wallets – cards stored on smartphones – which is expected to grow strongly.

Bailey told AFR that after applying to Australia's regulator to enter into a collective boycott of Apple Pay, the companies have been unwilling to negotiate with Apple directly, and therefore haven't been able to learn about customer benefits of the program. The banks are demanding that Apple open up the NFC capabilities of its iPhones so that they can provide payment services of their own in apps available through the App Store. Bailey says that's not possible and never will be.

Apple says it will never be able to grant the applicant banks' request for their own, proprietary digital wallets to access the "near field communications" chip in the iPhone (which communicates with payments terminals), because this would result in users having to manually, through the phone settings, change the app communicating with the NFC, a clunky process which would reduce take-up.

The one big Australian bank that has adopted Apple Pay, ANZ, says that over a quarter of its customers are now using Apple Pay, and that 10 times more customers use payments with their Apple devices than on Android Pay.

Other banks, like ING Direct and Macquarie Bank, will enable Apple Pay this month for their customers, and Bailey says that as more institutions sign up for the service, Australians will make even louder demands of their obstinate banks — or leave altogether.

Daniel Bader

Daniel Bader is a Senior Editor at iMore, offering his Canadian analysis on Apple and its awesome products. In addition to writing and producing, Daniel regularly appears on Canadian networks CBC and CTV as a technology analyst.