Banks still upbeat on NFC despite iPhone 5 disappointment

The iPhone's lack of NFC support has not deterred Australia's top four banks.

The iPhone 5's lack of NFC has not deterred banks from investing in contactless payment technology.

The iPhone 5's lack of NFC has not deterred banks from investing in contactless payment technology.

Australia’s top banks are moving forward with plans to support near field communications (NFC) despite Apple’s decision not to support the contactless payment technology in the iPhone 5. A number of NFC-enabled devices running Google's Android mobile platform are available in Australia, including smartphones from Samsung, HTC and Sony.

“NFC and mobile payments is still an emerging solution and I still think it will be some time before all the interested parties are ready to come to the fore,” Westpac head of mobile payments, Daryl Babus, told Computerworld Australia.

“We will continue to monitor closely what Apple is doing in this space.”

The iPhone 5’s lack of NFC surprised NAB, the bank’s technology head of strategy and innovation, Denis Curran said at a recent conference in Sydney.

“We all thought that the Apple iPhone 5 would come out with NFC,” he said.

“What will that do to adoption of NFC in Australia for mobile? How do we adapt our strategies to them?”

In a blog post last month, CommBank general manager of online banking, Drew Unsworth, said he was “a little disappointed” that Apple didn’t include NFC in the iPhone 5.

“There are also other factors to consider which will potentially help with NFC adoption in this country,” Babus said. That includes “the prevalence of contactless terminals and the familiarity of making contactless payments, and Australia is well positioned on these two fronts to still see NFC take-off.”

For other banks, however, NFC may not yet have the customer base needed to support an investment. Suncorp Bank is looking at NFC but isn’t ready to commit to the technology, said Suncorp Bank Channel Specialist, Simon Clarke.

“While the pace of mobile developments are rapid, in many cases consumers are still coming to grips with contactless payment systems,” he said.

Here’s a look at where some of Australia’s top banks stand on NFC deployment:

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