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CBA Tries Again With Apple

Two weeks after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission indicated it wouldn’t allow four major Australian banks to act as a cartel in their negotiations with Apple Australia over access to its Apple Pay payment system, the CBA appears to have decided to try going it alone.

Late last week it revealed a new lone approach in which it would pay Apple a fee for use of the iPhone’s payments infrastructure – but only if Apple  gives the CommBank app access to the smartphone’s antenna to allow for tap-and-go payments.

Fat chance. Nowhere in the world does Apple allow banks to have direct access to and control over the iPhone’s near field communication (NFC) controller.

But the CBA stresses it’s not going to give in easily. “If we could get access to the NFC antenna and our wallet had the same experience [as Apple Pay] on parity, there is no way the interchange fee, as currently contemplated, would be the stumbling block,”  Matt Comyn, head of CBA’s retail bank, told the Australian Financial Review.

In the meantime, CBA has implemented a workaround: iPhone customers can ante up $2.99 for a “PayTag” sticker that can be plonked onto the back of the phone as an alternative antenna. So far 400,000 CBA customers have ordered PayTag stickers, but most only make about one  transaction a month, rather less than CBA would like.

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