Optus Cash takes fight to Apple Pay with its own NFC payment app

Optus really wants you to use your phone like a credit card

With Apple driving awareness of the potential of NFC payments with Apple Pay, it's no surprise that the telcos are jumping on board. After Vodafone's NFC false start in 2012, it seems that Optus is the first from the telecommunications industry to jump on the bandwagon with the introduction of the un-ironically named "Cash".

Optus's interpretation of NFC payments doesn't require an account with a specific bank, which may make it a better alternative for people not wanting to stuck with a particular financial institution.

The service works just like a Visa debit card, with customers pre-loading up to $500 cash to their account at a time, then using their compatible Android handset to make payments.

In addition to an Android phone, you also need a special NFC-enabled SIM card – which Optus will send upon request.

Optus also claims to offer a few other nifty features like real-time balance checks, no intrusive NFC card or sticker (like Commbank's) and being able to use the app without opening the phone or even with a flat battery.

A Cash-less vault

Naturally, there's the immediate question of security, to which Optus provides the obligatory answer of a 100% money back guarantee on payments that are not authorised by the owner of the card.

Given the system uses Visa PayWave's EMV chip standard, and requires the phone to be within 4cm of a terminal to work, it's a relatively safe technology to use anyway.

The service is being offered by Heritage Bank, which is best known for its prepaid debit cards.

While Optus is the first telco to launch NFC payments in Australia, we'd put money on it not being the last, especially once Apple Pay finally makes its way across the Pacific.