NFC - Near field communication / contactless payments

Mobile banking is evolving at a cracking pace as more and more of us switch to smartphones.

Whether you want transfer money to someone, make a purchase or even process a payment with your mobile, there is a wide range of apps available to help make it happen.

With customers embracing new technological options, banks have been quick to develop as many convenient options as possible, and it is paying off for both them and us.

In fact, ANZ’s efforts have recently been acknowledged as top-of-the-line for the entire Asia Pacific region when the Big Bank won an IDC Financial Insights Innovation Award (FIIA) for “Innovation in Mobile Banking”.

The IDC Financial Insights Innovation Awards are run every year, recognising and honouring top Asia/Pacific financial institutions that have demonstrated innovation and creative thinking in the areas of customer engagement, product development, process reengineering or risk management to fulfil their business goals.

The awards are highly competitive, and only one other Australian bank – UBank – won acknowledgement in 2013.

In the case of ANZ, IDC Financial Insights were impressed by new payment solution FastPay; Australia’s first mobile banking app to offer small business owners same day settlement of merchant payments processed using an iPhone and iPad.

IDC Financial Insights and the assessors of the awards were particularly impressed by the app’s functionality.

“By combining the ability to accept credit/debit card transactions and same-day settlement, ANZ FastPay further raises the bar in mobile payments by giving SMEs and their customers a handy alternative to cash payments on-the-go,” the FIIA board explained.

“A simple four-digit PIN login ensures card transactions are secure, fast and hassle-free, effectively eliminating the inadvertent need to chase after unpaid invoices and bills.”

The app was released in 2012 as part of ANZ’s $1.5 billion Banking on Australia plan, which is designed to make it easier for everyone to bank with ANZ.

Commenting on the award, ANZ General Manager of Cards and Payment Services, Marj Demmer said: “We’ve been focused on using innovation to make banking easier for small business customers, and I’m pleased that ANZ FastPay has been recognised as a leader in this field by one of the world’s leading technology research firms.”

Mobile Money

ANZ EasyPay is one of many apps that show just how popular mobile solutions are.
Since its release in the second half of 2012 there has been almost 20,000 downloads of the app, which suggests popularity among small business owners looking for more convenient ways to process payments and get same day settlement.

While ANZ has said the app is designed specifically with small business owners in mind, it also benefits customers. Apps like FastPay mean that you can make a purchase with your credit card or debit card with businesses of any size, reducing the need for cash or direct debit in many cases.

But FastPay is just one of a number of mobile banking innovations in the Australian money landscape.

The popular online payment service PayPal has also launched its own mobile payment solution – PayPal Mobile – described by the company as a “fun, easy and convenient way to buy, send payments and make donations using your mobile phone.”

While PayPal Mobile is basically the smartphone version of the online service, there is also PayPal Here: a credit card reader that you can attach to your smartphone in order to process payments on the go.

Back in the banking world, Commbank has been one of the frontrunners with mobile banking apps. Kaching was actually one of the first apps to offer more social payment options, including the following:

  • Payments using someone’s phone number,
  • Payments to a person’s email address; and
  • Payments to a Facebook friend.

If you are a Commbank customer you can also make contactless payments in-store with an iPhone 4 or 4S by ordering an iCarte case from Commonwealth Bank via the Kaching app.

When you receive and activate the iCarte case, you can just hold your iPhone over any PayPass contactless terminal to pay when you’re shopping for purchases under $100. There’s no need for cash or cards.

Unlike FastPay, Kaching and PayPal Mobile are focused more on shoppers than small businesses. They also offer an insight into payment options of the future.

The big buzz in the US and UK at the moment is around virtual wallets: services that let you make payments with your credit cards and debit cards (or accounts) without you actually needing to get any plastic out.

Kaching’s functionality marks it as one basic virtual wallet option for Commbank customers, but there are others available for almost anyone.

MasterCard, for example, has recently announced the release of MasterPass, a digital service that allows you to use any payment card or enabled device to discover enhanced shopping experiences that are as simple as a click, tap or touch – online, in-store or anywhere.

Described by the credit card processor as “the future of digital payments”, MasterPass means you can use your phone for payments when you are in actual stores, and choose it as a secure, unique payment option when you shop online.

While Commbank, ANZ and other banks in Australia have announced their own versions of virtual wallets, MasterCard has an edge with this option because it is also an “open wallet”, meaning you can add any cards you like.

With other major contenders in the banking and credit card market also heading in this direction, it seems we will soon have more ways to make and process payments wherever we are.