Three of Australia’s big four banks are backing a joint venture that will build cross-platform mobile payment services.
In a statement, the trio said that the joint venture will be run independently and seek to sign up additional participants.
The joint venture’s first initiative is a payment app for Android and iOS. ‘Beem’ will allow users to request and send payments via a smartphone. The group said that it is planning additional initiatives “including digital wallet features and capabilities”.
Beem has been positioned as an alternative for small businesses to using merchant credit card facilities or sending invoicing. It could also be used as an easy way to split bills, the banks said.
The banks said that they hope it will become “an industry-wide payment solution”.
Initially the app will allow an individual to send up to $200 a day ($6000 a month), and receive up to $10,000 a month.
Beem won’t require an individual or small business to have an account with one of the three banks backing the service. The banks said that any customers of an Australian Authorised Deposit-taking Institution (ADI) with a debit card will be able to use it.
The three banks backing Beem previously banded together to challenge Apple, which in 2015 launched Apple Pay in Australia.
Of the big four banks, only ANZ has struck a deal to offer Apple Pay to its customers.
NAB, CBA and Westpac along with Bendigo and Adelaide Bank in 2016 lodged an application with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission that sought to temporarily permit them to act as a cartel when negotiating with Apple.
The banks wanted to be able to pass on the fees charged by Apple to their customers. Another key issue in the fight was opening up access to the the iPhone’s Near Field Communication (NFC) radio, in order to use NFC for contactless payments with the handset.
Apple has refused to let third-party developers use the NFC capabilities of the iPhone for payments.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission in March knocked back the application by the group.