Westpac has claimed that Apple has forced the bank to remove a major feature from its iPhone mobile banking app. The Westpac Keyboard feature allowed the bank’s customers to share bank account details and pay individuals from within apps such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp that allow the use of third-party keyboards.
According to bank spokersperson it has been confirmed that the free keyboard feature that enabled customers to transfer money through social media applications will not be included in their next software update in July. The Keyboard was originally approved but the bank were later notified that it was not suitable for the App Store. This is disappointing for the bank and the thousands of customers who are currently using it. Westpac notified its customers of the changes to the app in a letter. On the other hand Apple did not issue a comment on Westpac’s claims.
It is understood that there may be potential security concerns over the use of keyboards for payments, and that alternative methods, such as the use of iMessage extensions, may be considered more suitable for financial transactions.
It is not Apple’s first clash with Australian banks over mobile payments. Earlier this year a group of Australia’s major banks, including Westpac, lost a fight with Apple over the iPhone maker’s Apple Pay service.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission rejected an application lodged by Westpac, the Commonwealth Bank, NAB, and Bendigo and Adelaide Bank that would have allowed the companies to act as a cartel in negotiations over Apple Pay.
A key aim of the group of banks was to force Apple to allow third-party applications on the iPhones to access the handset’s NFC capabilities, which are used by Apple Pay for contactless payments.
Google’s Android mobile platform allows third-party app developers to access handsets’ NFC capabilities, which allows banks to integrate support for contactless payments.