Australia’s Commonwealth Bank Unveils Mobile-Payment Platform

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia on Oct. 26 unveiled a mobile-payment platform to enable iPhone-owning customers to do online banking, instantly send funds to Facebook friends or to anyone’s email address or telephone number, and, with the use of a special cover, make contactless payments.

The service, called Commbank Kaching, will be available for download as an application for phones using Apple Inc.’s iOS4.3 operating system and above. The contactless-enabled special cover, the iCarte, fits the iPhone 4 and 4S.

Customers may preregister for the app, which will be available for download “in the next few months,” on the bank’s website, says bank spokesperson Tracy Hicks. She declined to give a more definitive timetable.

The peer-to-peer and contactless payments will go through a MasterCard PayPass-enabled card users select when they install the app, and users may switch cards at any time, according to Hicks.

To use the phone for contactless payments, she says, users will need to launch the Commbank Kaching app and hold a phone with the iCarte cover attached up to the contactless-payment reader. They may spend up to AU$100 (US $104 or 75 euros) using the PayPass function.

As with other mobile-banking applications, no personal financial information is stored on the phone itself, Hicks tells PaymentsSource.

Access to the application is password-protected, and the app is authorized to work on a single device. In addition, if a payment goes unclaimed, the bank will credit the funds back to the payer after 14 days.

Commbank Kaching is an evolution of the bank’s existing online-banking system, NetBank, which saw 16 million mobile logons in August alone, an increase of 229% from the same time last year, according to the bank. Besides peer-to-peer and contactless payments, the app also offers all the traditional mobile-banking functionality, including the ability to check balances, transfer funds between accounts and pay bills.

More than half of the bank’s 10 million customers already own a smartphone, David Lindberg, the bank’s executive general manager for cards, payments and retail strategy, said in a press release.

“This new application will make the dream of mobile payments a reality,” he said.

According to the bank, 79% of its mobile-banking customers use an iPhone. Australia has the second-highest smartphone penetration in the world, the bank said, at 37%, second only to Singapore.

Merchants deploy some 42,000 PayPass terminals in Australia, where banks have issued 7 million MasterCard PayPass cards, according to Commonwealth.

All of the bank’s MasterCard debit and credit cards support PayPass functionality, the bank says.

Commonwealth is the largest bank in Australia by number of customers, with AU$668 billion in assets under management, more than 1,100 branches, 4,100 ATMs and 190,000 EFTPOS terminals in countrywide.

Read full article at PaymentsSource.