ME Bank and Heritage Bank both became the latest financial institutions to offer Apple Pay to customers on Tuesday.
ME Bank said in a statement that it had introduced the option “during a period when contactless payments continue to soar.”
“We’re pleased to announce that all new and existing ME cardholders can now use Apple Pay,” ME group executive for customer banking Craig Ralston said.
“Customers have been asking for it, and we’re happy to be introducing it during a time when people are looking for an alternative to cash,”
Heritage Bank similarly touted the availability of Apple Pay as “a safer, more secure and private way to pay that helps customers avoid handing their payment card to someone else, touching physical buttons or exchanging cash.”
“The arrival of Apple Pay comes at an important time, with Heritage Bank seeing an uplift in the use of contactless and digital payment solutions in the wake of COVID-19,” CEO Peter Lock said.
“With the impacts of COVID-19 changing everyday life, it’s more important than ever we support our customers to make contactless digital payments simply and safely.
“We are continuing to listen, learn and innovate and are absolutely thrilled to build on our goal of supporting our customers with great payment experiences through Apple Pay.”
The importance of contactless transactions has risen greatly in the COVID era, as people avoid touching payment terminal keypads and handling cash to lessen the potential spread of the virus.
“Many merchants made it clear through signage that they preferred contactless card payment, even for low-value payments,” RBA assistant governor for the financial system Michele Bullock said last month.
“Some even went as far as to indicate that they would not accept cash. Maybe partly in response to this, and their own concerns about hygiene, many people reduced their use of cash in stores.
“In addition, there was a significant shift to online shopping, where cash is simply not a payment option.
“As a result of these changes, ATM withdrawals in April were down 30 percent from the month before and over 40 percent lower than 12 months earlier.”
Westpac was the last of the big four banks to turn on Apple Pay in late April this year.