Many Australians believe their smartphone might one day replace their contactless cards. Research by Lonergan Research, on behalf of CBA, found that 73% of Australians believed their smartphone would replace their wallet by 2021. Australian financial institutions have, to date, met the demand for mobile payments through the use of NFC-enabled stickers and cases. The February 2014 announcement by VISA and MasterCard on “host card emulation”, where the secure element for a contactless payment can live in the cloud rather than in the phone, has reignited global interest in use of mobiles at point-of-sale, with a local trial being announced in Australia in March 2014. With consumer sentiment and facilitating technology shifting in its favour, what are the prospects for wide-scale embrace of mobile contactless payments in Australia?
In April, I took a quick trip to Disney World...well, kind of. The annual conference of NACHA, APCA's equivalent body in the USA, was held at Disney World's home: Orlando, Florida. Around 2,200 bankers turned up to hear three days of presentations on the state of US payments - and possibly catch a few rides. I hope they had some fun amongst the work, because these are stressful times for US payment providers. Having weathered the GFC with tightened budgets, US bankers are acutely conscious of new payments system developments in other countries and pressure from the US Federal Reserve to follow suit or be left behind; but they are a long way from agreeing amongst themselves what is to be done, and who will pay. My small contribution was to outline the policy logic behind Australia's New Payments Platform (NPP) proposal as a comparative example. There was much interest.