Four Australian banks are joining forces to negotiate with Apple and be allowed to offer their own payment services on the tech giant's hardware.
Apple Pay was launched in Australia in November 2015 through a limited partnership with American Express but was met with resistance from the local banks because they are prevented from accessing Apple's near field communication (NFC) technology, which enables tap and go payments.
The four banks, Commonwealth Bank, National Australia Bank, Westpac and Bendingo, have applied to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) for the permission to negotiate collectively with Apple over NFC access and to challenge what they see as anti-competitive behaviour.
The banks would like to offer their own digital wallet services via Apple's iPhones but instead have to either work around the restriction, by placing a tap-and-go sticker on the back of the phones, or else sign up to Apple Pay and share any revenue with the technology giant.
Apple's approach is in contrast to other third party wallet providers such as Google, Samsung and Microsoft, say the banks, which do allow them to offer their own payment apps on third party devices such as Android phones.
One major Australian bank missing from the collective is ANZ which signed up to Apple Pay in April.
The banks claim that their application for collective bargaining with Apple is a world-first and is primarily about offering consumers more choice, as opposed to a fear of disintermediation or a reduction in fees.
"This is about providing Australians with real choice and better outcomes," said Lance Blockley, a senior advisor at Novantas speaking on behalf of the banks to the Sydney Morning Herald.
"If successful, the application would have tremendous benefits for the entire Australian mobile payments landscape including for public transport fares, airlines, ticketing, store loyalty and rewards programs and many more applications yet to be developed."