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Body blow for PayKey as Apple orders Westpac off its turf

26 June 2017  |  10630 views  |  3 Westpac branch

Relations between Apple and Australia's Westpac have hit a new low after the consumer electronics giant ordered the bank to disable a new feature on its mobile app which enabled customers to transfer money to friends in chat applications.

Westpac was one of a group of banks in Australia who recently dragged Apple through a long-winded, and increasingly acrimonious battle with competition regulators over access to the iPhone's NFC chip.

The latest development marks a further souring in the relationship between the bank and Apple. It comes just three months after Westpac announced that it was working with Israeli-based startup PayKey on technology to add banking options to the bottom of a screen on a messaging app. PayKey's keyboard app bridges the gap between bank applications and social networks by adding optional banking icons to the bottom of the screen during in-app conversations.

In a letter to customers, seen by The Australian Financial Review, Westpac reveals that the keyboard takeover will be removed in July following receipt of a generic letter from Apple, which suggested that keyboards should not be able to send money, or that it may offend some users.

The development is a shock for PayKey, which recently announced that it had secured more than half of a second-round funding target of $10 million, partially on the back of the Westpac sale and other deployments by the likes of Turkey’s Garanti Bank and Banco Santander.

In a statement to AFR, a Westpac spokesman said: "This is disappointing for us and the thousands of customers who are currently using it. We apologise to our customers for any inconvenience caused and thank them for their continued support."

He adds that the bank will continue to pursue the roll out with an Android version that will be made available to customers soon.

Comments: (3)

Alexander Peschkoff
Alexander Peschkoff - TEDIPAY - London | 26 June, 2017, 23:27

I don't get it: if a given function is delivered via a custom keyboard (and linked to a custom app that has nothing to do with Apple per se), how can Apple ask for it to be blocked/removed? Or are they talking about such function "offending" users within Apple's own messaging app?

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A Finextra member
A Finextra member | 27 June, 2017, 09:44

Innovation often involves disruption of an existing market ecosystem and this is what we are all experiencing now. PayKey is working closely with Westpac in order to make any necessary modifications, and hoping to see this issue resolved soon. - Paykey response

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Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune | 27 June, 2017, 10:00

@AlexanderPeschkoff:

I'm no Apple user but, going by what I've heard from my customers involved in mobile app development, Apple has veto power over every feature in every iOS app meant for installation on an iPhone. I'm told the veto extends even to enterprise iOS apps used only within a company's "walled garden". The Internet has not destroyed rent seekers - it has just shifted rent seeking from (say) taxi unions to the Apples of the world.

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