Apple has banned Westpac’s innovative iPhone payment feature

Apple Pay has theoretically been available in Australia for a couple of  years now, but the rollout has largely been stalled by the country’s Big Four banks (ANZ, the Commonwealth Bank, NAB and Westpac), which have so far played hard-to-get, insisting on negotiating better terms with the Cupertino giant before offering the service to their customers. 

And while ANZ finally struck a deal with Apple mid last year customers of the other three have been left hanging as the disagreement approaches its third year.

A new twist in the saga has seen a key Westpac banking feature being banned by the Cupertino giant.

Apple has informed Westpac that it needs to disable its Keyboard feature, which was launched only in March this year in partnership with Israeli startup PayKey.

The feature wasn’t directly related to Apple Pay, instead giving customers banking options within popular messaging apps like SnapChat, Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger.

Dear customers…

The Australian Financial Review has laid its hand on a letter sent to Westpac customers, informing them that the Keyboard feature will be disabled in iOS from July.

It allowed users to send money to each other via chat apps by changing the default keyboard to a custom one that plugged into Westpac’s banking app and payment platform. Currently, this version of the Westpac app is available only on iOS, but an Android version is said to be on the cards, with the bank has stated that it will be made available to customers soon.

A Westpac spokesperson told the AFR, "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."

The reasons behind Apple’s decision are as yet unclear, but the company has indicated that its upcoming iOS 11 update will allow Apple Pay users to transfer money to their contacts using iMessage.

The move by Apple is likely to deliver a significant blow to Westpac’s attempts to attract  younger customers. 

Sharmishta Sarkar
Managing Editor (APAC)

Sharmishta is TechRadar's APAC Managing Editor and loves all things photography, something she discovered while chasing monkeys in the wilds of India (she studied to be a primatologist but has since left monkey business behind). While she's happiest with a camera in her hand, she's also an avid reader and has become a passionate proponent of ereaders, having appeared on Singaporean radio to talk about the convenience of these underrated devices. When she's not testing camera kits or the latest in e-paper tablets, she's discovering the joys and foibles of smart home gizmos. She's also the Australian Managing Editor of Digital Camera World and, if that wasn't enough, she contributes to T3 and Tom's Guide, while also working on two of Future's photography print magazines Down Under.