Westpac launches iMessage money transfers

Service released seven months after Apple bars Westpac Keyboard offering

Westpac has launched a service that allows its customers to transfer money to third parties from within iMessage on Apple iPhones.

The bank said that Westpac for iMessage is a first for Australia.

Westpac’s iMessage extension will work on iPhones running iMessage on iOS11 and the latest version of the bank’s iOS app.

“Westpac customers who bank with us on their iPhone now have the ability to simply tap the Westpac icon in iMessage and pay a family member for a gift or a friend for dinner without having to leave their text conversation,” Westpac chief executive, consumer bank, George Frazis, said in a statement.

“Our customers want a swift, secure banking experience that fits with their lifestyle and we are always exploring ways to enhance our services. It makes sense to pair texting and banking together – these services are an everyday part of Australians’ lives.

“We are keen to give our customers a broad range of choice when it comes to banking and we know digital developments like Westpac for iMessage will be welcome news.”

From within iMessage Westpac customers will be able to send money, share their bank account details and generate a code for the bank’s Cardless Cash service

In June last year Westpac said that Apple had forced it to withdraw a payment service designed for iPhones. The bank offered an app — Westpac Keyboard — that delivered similar functionality to the new iMessage extension within any iOS apps, such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, that allow the use of third-party keyboards.

“The Keyboard was originally approved but we were later notified that it was not suitable for the App Store,” a spokesperson for the bank said at the time. “This is disappointing for us and the thousands of customers who are currently using it.”

At the time Apple did not comment on the decision to bar the keyboard, but it is understood there were potential security concerns over the use of third-party keyboards for payments instead of other methods such as an iMessage extension.

Along with NAB and the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Westpac has yet to strike a deal with Apple to use the Apple Pay service. The three banks, along with Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, were unsuccessful in a 2016 attempt to seek the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's blessing to act as a temporary cartel in negotiations with the iPhone maker over Apple Pay and opening up access to the iPhone’s NFC antenna.

Westpac and yesterday was revealed as one of the Australian enterprises to have developed a ‘skill’ for Amazon’s voice-driven Alexa service.

Westpac said that the ‘Westpac Banking Skill’ will let customers check their account balance, recent spending history, and reward points status using Alexa. Customers will also be able to obtain a financial market update.

“As more people adopt innovative voice-activated technologies in an increasingly mobile world, we are excited to be one of the leaders in this space providing secure, easy to use, cutting edge banking services for our customers,” Frazis said.

Rival NAB has also released a skill for Alexa.

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