Google And Apple Vs. The Banks: Bickering Continues In Australia Among Mobile App Stakeholders

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is considering standards that would affect the mobile wallet industry in Australia, but negotiations are messy. First, standards for consideration by the ACCC were not outlined — not to mention that Australian banks want open access and competition, Google wants protection for its Android app and Apple is just flinging insults, it seems. Stop the madness, please.

The battle is heating up Down Under with Google, Apple, Visa, PayPal and the Australian banks all weighing in on possible standards that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) might consider for mobile wallet apps.

In July, Google launched Android Pay in Australia with over 25 banks and credit unions, including ANZ, one of the Big Four Australian banks (ANZ also supported Apple when it launched in Nov. 2015).

That said, the other big Australian banks that have not signed up to support Android Pay are those that have filed for collective negotiation, adding to the complexity of the situation. The initial request by banks to negotiate with third-party mobile providers was submitted at the end of July by Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Westpac Banking Corporation, National Australia Bank and Bendigo and Adelaide Bank.

Google Asia-Pacific (GAP) now wants to know if the big banks plan to extend a request to negotiate with other third-party mobile providers, such as Apple, and has requested that the ACCC find out. Google notes that Android’s NFC API is already open to competitors and wants the ACCC to protect its Android Pay service in the event of collective bargaining.

GAP stated: “If that confirmation is not given, GAP respectfully requests that any grant of authorization not extend to any negotiations related to Android Pay. Also, GAP reserves the right to submit a response to the Applications demonstrating that there is no basis on which authorization should be granted in respect of any negotiations related to Android Pay.”

Visa has also entered the mix and submitted a request to the ACCC. Visa essentially supports the banks’ push to collectively negotiate with third parties, such as Apple, if the objective is safety, security and stability. Visa also stated, however, that it is difficult to assess what impact giving permission to the banks to collectively bargain would have on industry standards.

For their part, the banks want to ensure that they will have access to mobile NFC chips so that other third parties can have access to mobile wallet technology — for example, for retailer reward programs or transit companies that want to institute mobile payments. The banks also want standardized security for mobile payment platforms and price transparency for payment systems nationally. They did not, however, outline in their application what specific standards the ACCC should consider.

The banks have been denied negotiation rights until the ACCC has considered the application for authorization. According to Rod Sims, ACCC chairman, the organization needs more time, and there is no specified date for a decision.


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