Australian banks are lagging in accepting new technology and dragging business with them.

By Stuart Craigen

Facebook switched Messenger into its own platform in 2015 and, as we have all no doubt noticed, there have been numerous updates making some major changes to the platform.

Unfortunately Australia is lagging behind in one of the biggest changes – Payments on Messenger (PoM). In the USA PoM is in BETA mode and gives users the ability to transfer/pay other Facebook users within the Messenger environment.  Facebook users that live in the US can, as an example, be sent a link to a product for sale within Messenger and then with a simple tap of a button, a scan of a fingerprint, or tap of an Apple Watch, purchase that item and authorise delivery. You can transfer money from one Facebook ‘friend’ or family member and even to a business page you ‘follow’. How cool is that?

In May of this year, Facebook was granted a patent in Australia that will allow the mega-giant to roll out their peer-to-peer payment system within its Messenger service sooner rather than later.

Sounds like a bank, doesn’t it?

In my opinion, it’s only a matter of time before other companies like Apple, Google and Amazon introduce their own P2P payment systems. Imagine this scenario: your employer deposits your wage straight into your Amazon account and you can then pay your utilities, mortgage, rent, direct debits and do your grocery shopping – straight from one account by a single tap of a button.

This is undoubtedly a major threat to Australian bank profit margins, especially after they spent a combined $1 billion dollars trying to build their own system (using BPay as the backbone) and, if Apple Pay is any indication of how threatened most of the top-tier banks are feeling, no doubt this is causing major angst. After all, they’ll be answerable to their shareholders in regards to such a huge investment in technology that only non-Facebook users will probably use (yes, there are one or two still out there!).

Those that follow me on Twitter may know about the spat I’ve been having with Westpac for its stubbornness when it comes to allowing customers access to Apple Pay.

The company still hasn’t moved on this issue, even after losing a court battle which tried to force Apple to open its technology, allowing the banks access.

The bank has been replying to my tweets and Facebook posts saying: “We’re reviewing our position in order to best serve our customers and remain open to offering Apple Pay.” In the meantime Westpac has implemented Android and Samsung payment systems and quite happily passing the service fee on to its customers for the ‘privilege’ which Apple doesn’t allow.

Westpac is acting like it’s 1987. It’s about time it asked ‘Siri’ to teleport it into 2017 and give many thousands of their customers what they are requesting.

I, for one, can’t wait … “Hey Siri, please pay my electricity bill, thank you. (I always say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ to Siri, otherwise she gets me horribly lost as revenge if I don’t.)

Does your bank offer P2P payment systems and, if so, are fees involved to use those services? Please leave a comment, I’d love to hear them.

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