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.