From Australia comes the news that ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) has asked Apple to clarify its decision to bar an app extension that allows customers of Westpac bank to use mobile message and social media platforms to make payments.
Westpac Keyboard was released in March. The app allows the bank’s clients to switch to its own keyboard to make payments to family, friends and businesses from apps such as Twitter, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.
However, last week Apple informed Westpac that its three-month-old keyboard would in future be banned from iPhones. The company’s staff were puzzled by Apple’s rather vague letter, which merely stated that keyboards should not be able to transmit money, or that it could offend certain users.
Westpac subsequently informed its customers about Apple’s decision. This was the first app extension from Asia Pacific with a payment feature, although Apple has previously endorsed similar apps from companies such as Spain’s Banco Sabadell and CaixaBank, as well as India’s ICICI Bank.
The bank chose not to comment on Apple’s possible reasons, but it is reported that Westpac had already attended to security issued raised by Apple and the app had been approved for use.
To ensure this action from Apple was not merely an anti-competitive decision, the ACCC has now stated it will be “seeking a proper explanation” from Apple.
Apple’s decision is particularly intriguing when taking into account that the firm will launch its own payment service this autumn. It will be available in Apple’s iMessage chat service and will initially be available in the United States.
Westpac and other companies such as National Australia Bank, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Adelaide Bank and Bendio have also unsuccessfully requested that the ACCC give them the green light to enter collective bargaining with Apple over getting access to the iPhone’s NFC chip so their own payment services can operate alongside Apple Pay.