Westpac, CBA, NAB to co-develop ‘next-gen’ mobile payments app


Three of Australia’s big four banks have announced they will join forces to develop, invest in and market an instant payment app for mobile smart devices.

The Commonwealth Bank (CBA), Westpac, and National Australia Bank (NAB) will co-develop the app, set to be the first of several joint initiatives between the financial services powerhouses.

The app, christened ‘Beem’, will allow customers to make instant payments using their smartphones, as well as request payments from individuals and businesses and split bills at the point of sale.

The banking triumvirate hopes for the universal adoption of payment app and said they are open to interest from other banks, industry, and retail players to join the project. The app will be made available to all Australian banking customers, including small businesses, regardless of their existing banking relationships.

According to the three participants, the venture will be run independently, with a mandate to actively seek out new participants. A glaring omission from the joint venture, ANZ has opted not to join its three rivals in developing the app.

Security will prove a drawcard for the app, with the banks touting the its “bank-level security” and encryption of user account information. “Every transaction will be authenticated and subject to real-time fraud monitoring,” the banks said in a joint release.

CBA is presently conducting user testing of a Beem prototype, with the app set to be available for download by the end of the year.

CBA group executive of retail banking services, Matt Comyn, said Beem will simplify the payments and payments request process – recognised a major pain point for both consumers and small businesses.

“Beem will give small businesses a cost-effective and easy way to collect payments instantly and on-the-go for their goods and services, without having to take the larger leap into using merchant credit facilities, or issuing invoices to be paid later,” Mr Comyn said.

Westpac chief executive, consumer bank, George Frazis, said Beem will offer customers a simple and intuitive facility to make instant payments via their smartphones, forgoing the need to input cumbersome account details.

“Innovations such as Beem and wearables are leading the way in payment solutions because they’re convenient, easy to use, and fit in with people’s lifestyles – we firmly believe in going to where our customers are and providing them with greater choice,” Frazis said.

NAB chief operating officer, Antony Cahill, said the bank is continually looking collaborative opportunities within the industry to “deliver … innovative payments [solutions], no matter who you bank with”.

Beem will be built for both iOS and Android platforms and made available to all bank customers and small businesses that hold a global scheme debit card issued by an Australian Authorised Deposit-taking Institution (ADI).

The payment app will not be the last collaboration project between the big four. Future product initiatives, including digital wallet features and capabilities, are also in the pipeline, the banks said.