Analysis

Eftpos Australia to Develop Mobile Wallet

Australian payment company eftpos has announced its intention to begin trials of a mobile wallet and NFC widget.  Although they are yet to confirm details, they plan to finalise proof of concepts this year and move into commercialisation in 2014.

Eftpos has partnered with C-SAM, a mobile transactions technology provider.  Together they propose to develop an eftpos mobile wallet and NFC widget as white label products which could potentially be used by retailers or financial institutions and rebranded to suit their own needs. Given eftpos is owned by the big four banks as well as Coles & Woolworths, there are no prizes for guessing which retailers and financial institutions are likely to be early adopters of the technology.

Eftpos will be looking at mobile payments as well as other related services such as offers and loyalty programmes. The proposed solutions would allow shoppers to pay by tapping their smartphone against a payment terminal, although it is still uncertain if eftpos will pursue the NFC route. According to C-SAM CEO, Felix Marx said “NFC is important because of the footprint it has in this market”, however two important players in the mobile payments race, Apple and Paypal have not used NFC in their mobile wallet solutions.  The future of NFC in the Australian and global markets remains unclear.  For that reason eftpos are investigating a variety of solutions.

With their powerful owners, there is a good chance the eftpos solution will be broadly adopted by local financial institutions and retailers.  The competition is not strong, and things are moving slowly in the Australian market.   With Google Wallet still only available in the US and Apple’s Passbook having limited impact here to date, the big players are not really on the radar.  The PayPal mobile payment solution is called PayPal Here, but it isn’t yet (!!).  The service is apparently in a closed Beta trial, and potential partners can register their interest on the PayPal site.  Mastercard has recently launched in the Australian market with a digital wallet platform solution called MasterPass which allows customers to connect other branded credit, debit and prepaid cards

Eftpos are also embracing the open ecosystem environment of mobile payments, acknowledging that they are one of a range of wallet providers on the market.  The eftpos mobile wallet would allow use of cards from other payment providers and in return eftpos would expect those companies to include eftpos cards in their wallets.

We’ve been talking about mobile wallets and NFC for a long time now.  As well known early adopters of technology, Australians are sure to embrace a truly useful solution when it comes along. It will just take the right technology, in the right place, at the right time, to really allow mobile payments to take off here. For some background on NFC you might like to check out our article from last year.  It’s a few months old, but not much has changed since then!

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