Australian Consumer Watchdog to Question Apple Over Westpac Chat App Payments Ban

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is seeking clarification from Apple over its decision to ban an app extension that lets Westpac bank customers use social media and mobile messaging platforms to make payments.

Known as Westpac Keyboard, the feature was announced in March and let the bank's customers change the default keyboard in social messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Twitter, and Snapchat, in order to make payments to friends, family, and businesses.


Apple wrote to Westpac last week to tell the bank that its three-month-old keyboard feature would no longer be allowed on iPhones, according to The Australian Financial Review. Staff were reportedly perplexed by Apple's generic explanation letter, which suggested that keyboards should not be able to send money, or that it may offend some users.

Westpac has written to its customers to let them know the keyboard app extension will be removed in July. The app extension was the first in the Asia Pacific region to enable payments, but Apple has previously approved similar apps from other institutions, including India's ICICI Bank and Spain's Banco Sabadell and CaixaBank.    

The bank has not commented on the reasons behind Apple's decision, but sources told AFR that Westpac had already addressed security concerns initially raised by Apple and had the app approved from that perspective. The ACCC consumer watchdog has now said it will be "seeking a proper explanation" from Apple to make sure it is not an anti-competitive move.

Westpac was among a group of institutions alongside Commonwealth Bank of Australia, National Australia Bank and Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, which unsuccessfully asked the ACCC to allow them to collectively bargain with Apple over access to the iPhone's NFC chip to allow their own payments services to work alongside Apple Pay.

Apple is launching its own payments service that will work over the company's iMessage chat service in iOS 11, which is set to be released in the fall. The service will be available in the U.S. first but no date has been set for its arrival in Australia.

(Thanks, Jason!)



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28 months ago

I wish Apple would just open up NFC to third partiets and not be so protective of Apple pay. Not everyone wants to use their sollution.

Nope. Not interested in Reducing the security on my phone so others can have the hack of the day.
Rating: 13 Votes
Avatar
28 months ago

Being anticompetitive is perfectly legal.

You need to be dominating the market to be fined. Apple isn't dominating any market in the EU.

What's really anti competitive is a banking cartel that blocks the adoption of Apple Pay in a country by not offering a card that supports it.
Rating: 9 Votes
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28 months ago

That’s hopefully the next big fine of the EU against Apple. Apple doesn’t look good with this whole NFC stuff at all


Being anticompetitive is perfectly legal.

You need to be dominating the market to be fined. Apple isn't dominating any market in the EU.
Rating: 8 Votes
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28 months ago

Staff were reportedly perplexed by Apple's generic explanation letter … Apple has previously approved similar apps from other institutions


Welcome to being a developer on the App Store. This must be their first app.
Rating: 6 Votes
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28 months ago

Nope. Not interested in Reducing the security on my phone so others can have the hack of the day.

How exactly would opening access to NFC reduce the security of the iPhone? So are you saying that Apple is already making the iPhone less secure?
https://www.macrumors.com/2017/06/07/developer-access-iphone-nfc-chip-ios-11/
Rating: 5 Votes
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28 months ago
Probably because they can't profit from every transaction since the money is from the bank and doesn't go through the App Store
Rating: 4 Votes
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28 months ago
That’s hopefully the next big fine of the EU against Apple. Apple doesn’t look good with this whole NFC stuff at all
Rating: 3 Votes
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28 months ago

It could be argued that Apple is as much to blame as the banks for lack of Apple Pay in Australia. Apple won't offer a rate that the banks are prepared to accept.


You can't just ignore ANZ, which is one of the Big Four Australian banks, has millions of customers, and is perfectly fine offering Apple Pay on all of their credit cards. Along with ING Direct, CUA, Macquarie, HSBC, etc and a ton of other credit unions. In total there are now 50 financial institutions in Australia that support Apple Pay.

It's a myth perpetuated by NAB, Westpac and Commonwealth that there's a "lack of Apple Pay in Australia" and that Apple won't offer an agreeable rate - and it's in their interests to make it appear that way given they wanted an exception for cartel negotiating powers (which the ACCC ruled against given the abuse of market power it would allow). It's just an excuse they're using with their customers to explain why they aren't offering it while ANZ and others are.
Rating: 2 Votes
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28 months ago
I wish Apple would just open up NFC to third partiets and not be so protective of Apple pay. Not everyone wants to use their sollution.
Rating: 2 Votes
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28 months ago

You can't just ignore ANZ, which is one of the Big Four Australian banks, has millions of customers, and is perfectly fine offering Apple Pay on all of their credit cards. Along with ING Direct, CUA, Macquarie, HSBC, etc and a ton of other credit unions. In total there are now 50 financial institutions in Australia that support Apple Pay.

It's a myth perpetuated by NAB, Westpac and Commonwealth that there's a "lack of Apple Pay in Australia" and that Apple won't offer an agreeable rate - and it's in their interests to make it appear that way given they wanted an exception for cartel negotiating powers (which the ACCC ruled against given the abuse of market power it would allow). It's just an excuse they're using with their customers to explain why they aren't offering it while ANZ and others are.


As you know ANZ were one the first, if not first, bank to support Apple Pay in Australia. They decider to accept the "high rate" per transaction that Apple offer so they would be the only bank with Apple Pay in the hope of attracting customer to switch to them. The other Big Banks decided to wait in the hope of a better rate. If they did get this they will be in a better position than ANZ. The other early Apple Pay adopter in Australia was American Express, who charge a high annual fee and charge a high percentage to retailer, this is why some place in Australia don't accept American Express and why they could easily afford to pay Apple's rate.

I am not defending the Big Banks, they are fee to support Apple Pay or not, just as you the customer can choose to switch banks. We just need to remember that Apple is larger than any of them and all partly are ruthless negotiators.

Back to the original article. It is good that the ACCC is looking at this, whoever's way their ruling goes, Apple and the banks involved must abide by that. If Apple wants to sell the iPhone and have Apple Pay in Australia they must so under Australian law and ACCC rulings.
Rating: 2 Votes
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