St. George releases pay-to-mobile app

Several banks now have pay-to-mobile apps, with Westpac also looking at the technology.

St. George has launched a pay-to-mobile app which will allow users to send payments on their smartphones.

To make a payment, users need to put in the recipient’s mobile number and hit ‘transfer’. The app then notifies the recipient money has been transferred and they are directed to a secure website where they put in their BSB and account details.

“Thanks to the smartphone boom, Australians are now more connected than ever before and St. George Banking Group has seen remarkable growth in the use of our mobile banking apps. In fact, we anticipate that over the next 18 months, mobile banking usage will overtake traditional online banking as the preferred customer channel,” said George Frazis, St. George Banking Group CEO, in a statement.

“Giving customers the option to transfer funds simply by using the recipient’s mobile phone number alone means they’ll no longer need someone’s bank account details to make a payment. It offers customers a highly secure and unprecedented level of convenience, allowing them to do their banking whenever and wherever they want.”

The St. George app launch follows the Commonwealth Bank’s launch of its own pay-to-mobile app, Kaching, in October last year, which allows users to make peer-to-peer payments on their mobile and through Facebook. Its pay-to-mobile app utilises near field communication (NFC) and GPS technology.

Westpac also has a pay-to-mobile app in development. Clive Whincup, CIO at Westpac, said in May this year that the bank had its eye on the technology.

“It’s a fascinating area to observe and to position ourselves in. It’s definitely a growth area. [However], we do see it as an area where there is some risk because payments in the broad sense is a volume business and what we’re seeing at the moment is a lot of different solutions and different options appearing in the marketplace. To a degree they will be experimental,” he said.

While he stated there was no clear or singular way forward for the bank in the mobile payments space, he said it would approach it with several different options and solutions which address different customer niches and segments.

“Then we’ll see how it develops from there, because I think what we are seeing is certainly the pace of change in the mobile space is so rapid that we’re participating in a number of different areas, but it will evolve – it will evolve in a way that we won’t be able to predict,” he said.

Jeff Jacobs, chief technology officer at Westpac, also commented that NFC is on the bank’s radar and it is keeping a close eye on what the rest of the market is producing.

“It is a major focus area for us, mobile payments, and so we’re not just sitting back – we’re actually doing something in this space as well,” he said.

However, Harold Dimpel, CEO of mobile payment technology company mHITs Limited, recently said banks have a lot of catching up to do when it comes to innovative payment technologies.

“Why haven’t we seen many changes in payment [technology] fundamentally? Most of it is because most of the enabling technologies still rely on legacy bank payment architecture, which certainly can hold back a lot of things,” he said.

The St. George app will be available on iPhone, Android, Blackberry and Windows 7 smartphones and will be integrated into the bank’s existing mobile banking app.

The rollout of the St George pay-to-mobile app will begin 18 June with BankSA and Bank of Melbourne, with St George customers able to access the app from 25 June.

Follow Stephanie McDonald on Twitter: @stephmcdonald0

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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