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Oz bank takes near-field plunge

CBA also takes payments ‘social’

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Peer-to-peer payments, transfers via Facebook, and support for contactless near-field communications: the Commonwealth Bank has reached for the buzzword book to create a new payment system it hopes will help it ride on the back of huge growth in mobile payments systems.

It also targets the huge growth of the iPhone in Australia, since the new all-embracing mobile payments system is only going to be offered for iOS 4.3 and above.

Mobile is the growth engine of online payments, with the bank claiming a 229 percent increase comparing the month of August 2011 to August 2010, and a total of 16 million mobile logins in the month.

The CBA “Kaching” application will only be authorized to a single handset, and does not have local storage of any banking details. The bank also says that user data won’t be accessible on lost or stolen phones, but is fuzzy on the details, saying only that user data is protected by “password encryption”.

NFC is supported by the iCarte cover from Canadian outfit Wireless Dynamics, using MasterCard’s PayPass system for payment processing. The bank says more than 40,000 MasterCard PayPass terminals have been deployed in Australia so far.

The bank says the offering has good potential in Australia, since individuals here appear more willing to use their phones for payments: “Australians are 65 percent more likely than the British to bank on their phones, and 14 percent more likely than those in America,” said the bank’s David Lindbergh.

Depending on the medium used, recipients will either receive their money instantly, or will be sent a code allowing them to retrieve their payment later. ®

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