Last Friday the Federal Member for Chifley Ed Husic wrote to the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia Glenn Stevens calling for enhancements to the national framework to encourage greater “tech neutrality” which was a straight barb at the banks who have yet to support Apple Pay in Australia.
Mr Husic is a huge supporter of technology and Innovation and his letter to the RBA went to great lengths to outline the case for Apple Pay. This was not about supporting Apple, in fact Husic is well-remembered as a champion for Parliament’s inquiry into IT pricing which hammered Apple over its pricing of software, music and hardware.
When I spoke to the Member for Chifley on this week’s episode of Your Tech Life he was passionate about getting the banks to embrace Apple Pay. “The more we get our act together in the payment space the better it is for online commerce, and there is obviously good commercial and economic flow on from that”
“Being able to just use your smartphone at a point of sale terminal and be able to make that transaction go really smoothly is very good” and went on to say “we should be encouraging credit and debit cards to be used on the system”
Critically, this isn’t just about Apple Pay. And it’s not detracting from the great work the banks have done with their own innovation in the payment space.
As Mr Husic says “it should be that the customer chooses, and the customer that has the power to make the choice as to where they go with their payments”
Acknowledging that it wasn’t just the banks that needed to give some ground on this he added “Apple should play ball too, in other markets they have given a little on their transaction charges, they should do the same here.”
His call to the RBA was simple – he wrote:
..” I would urge the RBA – more specifically the PSB (Payment Systems Board) – to consider the introduction of enhancements to the national payment systems framework to encourage greater tech neutrality and enhance consumer choice.”
Tonight, Mr Husic confirmed on Your Tech Life that he had in fact heard back from the RBA Governor
“The don’t necessarily agree with everything I said” he told me, but “they are open to having further discussions on it” and “they are definitely pro having technology neutral regulation, they have championed that themselves”
Unfortunately, it was a pretty straight bat with which Mr Stevens replied.
“As a rule, the Bank does not interfere in any area such as this unless there are public interest issues raised that relate to risk, efficiency or competition in the payments system”.
He noted “to this point, the Bank’s discussions relating to Apple Pay have not provided any evidence that Australian banks have been ‘boycotting’ Apple Pay. Nor have they led to any sense that there is some shortcoming in our regulatory framework that has resulted in Australian banks not yet enabling Apple Pay.”
The positive thing for us to take from the RBA’s response to Mr Husic related to a future where we have a technology neutral architecture.
“The Bank agrees with you about the importance of an open payments architecture that is technologically neutral”
All well and good mate, but can you just pick up the phone to the big four CEOs and tell the to pull their finger out and just give something good to their customers. No, Not Apple Pay – choice.
The Australian banks have excellent apps, systems, gateways, you name it. Why not just add Apple Pay to the mix?