Will we finally see NFC payments in Australia?

14 12 2012

For some time now, a number of banks in Australia have hinted at the possibility of implementing NFC payments (probably to fill the void that Google has left with the endless delays of Google Wallet NFC reaching the country).  Commonwealth Bank launched their Kaching case for iPhone (which doesn’t appear to be a very stylish or practical option) and their Kaching app for Android which lacks any NFC functionality altogether, even though many Android devices natively support NFC. This is all ever so slightly off topic for this post, as the main item I wanted to discuss was Westpac’s venture into the NFC world.

Back in August 2012, Westpac and MasterCard launched an internal trial of 100 devices for 3 months using the application “Westpac TAP”.  That 3 month period had quietly concluded with no comment from Westpac. After posing the question to Westpac’s Twitter feed towards the end of October, Westpac replied with the following cryptic response:

“very limited trial at the moment, stay tuned as we’ll communicate any developments on wider release here.”

This seemed to imply that they hadn’t given up on it just yet.  More importantly, back when the trial was first announced in August, also revealed were a couple of partners.  Firstly, Optus were announced as the trial partner providing the mobile equipment.  The second partner, Oberthur Technologies, were selected to embed the secure elements into the device’s SIM cards using their Trusted Service Manager (TSM) solution.

Well an interesting bit of recent information is a media release from Oberthur Technologies.  The media release (dated December 12, 2012) states that Oberthur Technologies “today announced its appointment by Westpac Group, one of the leading Australian banks, as the exclusive payment cards and services provider for its Australian and Pacific Banking businesses”.  It states that the selection is for a 7-year managed services contract.

Now this could all be a coincidence, but I suspect it may not be and it seems to hint that a working NFC payment option for Android devices may finally be ready for Australia.  For those of us in Australia that were waiting for Google Wallet to officially launch NFC here in Australia, we may soon have another option.

Nothing has been confirmed by Westpac, so it may yet disappear into the ether.  If anyone has any further information, you’re welcome to post a comment here or on Twitter.

 

SOURCES:

Westpac

Oberthur Technologies (1), (2)

Gizmodo

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