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Apple Pay is now available for St George, BankSA and Bank of Melbourne customers – but if you're a Westpac customer you'll have to wait until June 2020

Clancy Yeates, SMH

Westpac is the final big four bank to allow its customers to make tap-and-go payments with their iPhones, announcing plans to rollout Apple Pay across its various brands by mid-2020.

The country's second largest bank on Thursday said the payment service, which effectively allows customers to upload their cards to their phone, is now available for the St George, BankSA and Bank of Melbourne brands.

Westpac customers will have access to Apple Pay by June 2020, the bank said. The rollout to its core brand is taking longer because the Westpac uses a different banking platform, a bank spokeswoman said. The bank decided to first switch on Apple Pay for its regional brands as it updates the Westpac system.

“We want to assure Westpac customers we are working to bring them Apple Pay as quickly as possible, while we rollout the technology across our different banking platforms,” said chief executive of consumer banking, David Lindberg.

The rollout comes after rivals Commonwealth Bank and National Australia Bank ushered in Apple Pay earlier this year, following a brawl between Apple and three of the big four banks in 2016 which delayed the widespread introduction of the payment service in Australia.

In 2016, NAB, CBA and Westpac attempted to conduct a collective boycott of Apple Pay in a bid to negotiate as a bloc and squeeze out a better commercial deal from the technology giant. However, the competition watchdog rejected the banks' request, prompting the banks to each negotiate with Apple individually. Apple takes a cut from any payments that are processed through Apple Pay, squeezing bank profit margins.

ANZ Bank has been providing Apple Pay since 2016, and it has claimed the service is helping it sell a range of products including home loans, transaction accounts and mortgages.

Under the rollout for St George, BankSA and Bank of Melbourne, customers with an eligible Visa debit or credit card will be able to upload their card details on to their phone's technology system, which can then be used to make contactless payments and purchases online. Banks say the system is more secure than a plastic card, in part because each payment is authenticated by a password or a scan of the customer's fingerprint or face. Customers will not initially be able to use eftpos cards on Apple Pay.

The rollout follows a tumultuous few weeks for Westpac, which was last month accused of breaking anti-money laundering laws 23 million times, including failures to adequately monitor payments potentially linked to child exploitation.

The crisis prompted the dramatic resignation of former chief executive Brian Hartzer, the chairman Lindsay Maxsted is stepping down early and various financial regulators have since launched further investigations into the bank.

The original article appeared on the Sydney Morning Herald. You can read it here.