Commonwealth Bank, Westpac, and National Australia Bank have announced they are launching a new payments app.
The app– named Beem– will enable instant payments for all Australians regardless of who they bank with.
Beem enables users to make instant payments using their smartphone, request payment from someone who owes them money and split bills.
The banks said they hoped the app would become an “industry-wide payment solution”.
Following user testing of a Beem prototype to be conducted by CBA, the app to be available for download on iOS and Android smartphones later this year.
Beem will initially have a sending limit of $200 a day ($6,000 per month), and a monthly receiving limit of $10,000 as an initial risk control measure.
The only requisite for using the app is that users hold a global scheme debit card issued by an Australian Authorised Deposit-taking Institution (ADI).
That includes ANZ customers, despite the bank being notably absent from the joint venture.
“Two thirds of small businesses say they are owed money for completed work, with around $7,300 owed to small traders [according to CBA research earlier this year]. Beem will give small businesses a cost effective and easy way to collect payments instantly and on the go for their goods and services, without having to take the larger leap into using merchant credit facilities, or issuing invoices to be paid later,” said Matt Comyn, Commonwealth Bank group executive of retail banking services.
Westpac chief executive, consumer bank, George Frazis, said: “Innovations such as Beem and wearables are leading the way in payment solutions because they’re convenient, easy to use, and fit in with people’s lifestyles – we firmly believe in going to where our customers are and providing them with greater choice.”
NAB chief operating officer, Antony Cahill, said: “This is the industry working together to deliver an innovative payments solution, no matter who you bank with.”
Apple Pay rival?
Although Beem is currently focused on person to person payments, further initiatives “including digital wallet features and capabilities” are planned, potentially in competition with Apple Pay.
The three banks continue to refuse to offer Apple Pay, after failing to convince the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to allow them to act as a cartel in negotiations with Apple.
In their submission to the ACCC, CBA, Westpac, NAB, and Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, had said that alternatives to Apple Pay were “unrealistic in Australia”
“In Australia, potential mobile wallet providers other than Apple are locked out of the established payment infrastructure in respect of the clear majority of relevant customers,” they wrote in their submission.
ANZ has offered Apple Pay since April last year, along with a number of smaller banks.
The Beem venture will be independently run, with a mandate to actively seek new participants to join the initial three participants.