Online behemoth Google has quietly joined Australia’s peak payments and self-regulatory body, the Australian Payments Network (ausPayNet), securing a seat next to the likes of Eftpos, BPAY, Mastercard, Visa and SWIFT.
The move inside of the tent of the key Australian organisation, which includes local and international banks, comes against the backdrop of a turf war between major institutions for consumer wallets, especially which payments products will lure over account holders.
Google’s admission to the payments inner sanctum was revealed in a bulletin to AusPayNet members.
Both Google and Apple have for the last five years been in a fractious relationship with the mainstream payments and banking industries globally over how the lucrative cut, which payments operators extract from transactions, is divided.
Card schemes like Mastercard and Visa, along with their issuing banks, have traditionally ruled the roost on setting fees and charges for transactions, often to the irritation of regulators which have doggedly pursued reductions around interchange fees and currency conversion charges.
However the entry of smartphone makers with proprietary operating systems capable of processing transactions, particularly contactless ones at point of sale, has led to an institutional stand-off over fees and transactional routing.
Google has already made substantial inroads in the Australian NFC payments market by virtue of what had been a three bank boycott of rival Apple Pay that was shattered by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) at the end of last year.
The sheer scale of Google’s acquisition of market share over Apple with Australian banks was borne out this week in CBA’s half-yearly numbers after CEO Matt Comyn told institutional investors mobile banking numbers had soared by 50 percent in just two weeks thanks to the addition of Apple Pay.
The big jump at CBA came by way of 500,000 new Apple Pay users boosting the existing one million Google Pay customers.
With Apple now breathing down Google’s neck in terms of Australian customer acquisition, banks will now be watching what kind of innovation Google can bring to the table through its AusPayNet membership, with identity verification and location services known to be two key areas of interest.
Google is also known to be pushing hard in the public transit ticketing space, an area where Apple has already done deals with the likes of Transport for London to port tickets to phones.
Sydney is expected to be the first city to offer smartphone ticketing based on London's model.