Australia’s ANZ Bank Launches Small NFC Trial as Contactless Acceptance Continues to Roll Out
ANZ bank plans to launch a second trial of contactless-mobile payment, a small employee pilot that will put the bank’s payment application onto SIM cards for use with NFC-enabled Samsung Galaxy S III Android phones.
The bank recently introduced the trial, to launch with only 25 employees, but the bank reportedly said more participants would be added. The trial will use SIM cards issued by Australian telco Optus to store the payment application. It will enable users to tap to pay for purchases of up to A$100 (US$102.26) without entering a PIN code.
The bank held a trial in March of 2011, putting a Visa payWave application onto microSD cards using an iPhone case equipped with a contactless chip and antenna for 50 staffers of the bank and Visa Inc. Both the microSD and case were supplied by U.S.-based DeviceFidelity.
The new trial probably uses a Visa payWave application as well, loading it onto the sample NFC SIMs from Optus.
In an interview with Australia’s iTnews business publication, ANZ’s head of payments, John Collins, reportedly said that the earlier microSD card trial “had failed based on customers’ aversion to add-on devices.”
He added, however, that the bank would “revisit that research,” given that the new iPhone 5 doesn’t natively support NFC and any use of the iPhone for contactless-mobile payments would require a special attachment.
Collins also reportedly noted that the embedded chips in Android phones, such as the Galaxy S III, were not accessible, requiring banks to work with telcos.
As NFC Times has reported, some Android phone makers, led by Samsung, are embedding chips in most, if not all, of their NFC phones. They will control the chips and could enable payments and other services, unless they are persuaded to hand over the master keys to the chips to telcos or allow the chip maker to keep them.
In such markets as Australia, Collins reportedly said it’s necessary to deal with telcos and their SIMs as secure elements.
“The long-run solution needs to be telco-agnostic,” Collins was quoted as saying. “Ultimately, in the same way you do today, you don't go and buy a bunch of different wallets and say, ‘I can only use this wallet in this shop.’ ”
ANZ’s new NFC trial and planned mobile wallet is a small part of ANZ’s five-year, A$1.5 billion (US$1.53 billion), “Banking on Australia” initiative, which will include next-generation ATMs, refurbishing of bank branches and videoconferencing at branches and upgrades to the bank’s mobile platform for businesses.
The ANZ trial will follow the launch of a similar trial by another of Australia’s big four banks, Westpac, which in August distributed Galaxy S III models to 100 employees of the bank and vendors, putting a MasterCard PayPass application on SIMs issued by Optus.
Westpac, like ANZ and Australia’s other two big banks, Commonwealth Bank and National Australia Bank, or NAB, are watching the NFC ecosystem closely, though none have publicly committed yet to rollouts.
Australia, with one of the highest penetrations of contactless point-of-sale terminals worldwide, with more than 80,000 deployed, is a likely hotspot for future NFC commercial launches.
NAB reportedly plans to roll out contactless POS terminals to its 130,000 merchants nationwide as the terminals come up for renewal. That means the majority of the terminals would become contactless over roughly the next three years, according to The Australian Financial Review, which reported that the bank had concluded a supply deal with U.S.-based terminal vendor VeriFone.
While NAB hasn’t held an NFC trial in years, David Gall, a bank general manager, reportedly said that NAB would “be in market at least at the same time, if not before, a number of our competitors.”