In the News: Apple-Westpac Relationship Sours

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In the News: Apple-Westpac Relationship Sours

American multinational technology company Apple and Westpac, the Australian bank, have seen their relationship deteriorate after Apple told the bank to disable a new feature on its mobile app that allows customers to transfer money to friends through chat applications.

According to a recent report, Westpac was one of several banks in Australia fighting with Apple for access to the iPhone’s near field communications (NFC) chip. This latest argument increases the acrimonious relationship between the Westpac and Apple, and comes just three months after the Australian bank announced a partnership with PayKey, an Israeli startup, to include banking options in messaging apps. 

The report noted PayKey’s keyboard app enables a melding of bank applications and social networks by adding the optional banking icons during in-app conversations.

In a letter to customers, Westpac said the keyboard tool will be taken out of the app in July after receiving a letter from Apple suggesting the keyboards should not be allowed to send money. The development issue could not come at a worse time for PayKey, which recently raised $10 million in a round of funding.

“This is disappointing for us and the thousands of customers who are currently using it,” Westpac said in a statement, according to the report. “We apologize to our customers for any inconvenience caused and thank them for their continued support.”

Westpac announced in December 2016 that Westpac Mastercard customers using select Samsung, Sony, LG, HTC, Motorola, Huawei, Pixel and other compatible Android mobile devices were now able to use Android Pay. In a press release at the time, Westpac said customers with an eligible Mastercard debit or credit card could make contactless payments through their Android smartphones.

Westpac noted that Android Pay is available wherever NFC payments are accepted — at thousands of retail outlets across Australia.

“Our core focus is on providing great service to our nine million customers by embracing digital opportunities and making it easy and convenient for them to bank with us,” said George Frazis, chief executive of Westpac Group’s Consumer Bank. “Our mobile customers want access to the best technology, so we are delighted to add Android Pay, one of the world’s most popular mobile payment platforms, to our range of mobile payment options.”