The Commonwealth Bank today announced a new app for Android, iOS and Windows Phone 8 devices. The new app incorporates features from its existing apps like Kaching and introduces Tap-to-pay mobile payment functionality across all iOS and Android devices.
There’s also, appropriately, a concerted effort from CommBank to get the message out about security and privacy – they understandably want to make users more confident and comfortable using their facilities.
The new app features a friendly UI with access to frequently-used features up front and a heirarchical menu in a navigation drawer providing access to features, shortcuts to appropriate actions from the account list and an innovative UI to simplify transfers between accounts. The new UI calls to mind Qantas’ recent overhaul with a blurry picturesque photographic background and friendly Holo-style UI – this is in no way a bad thing, as it’s one of the better designed Android apps we’ve seen in the last few months.
A new “coming soon” microsite has been launched to keep customers up to date on what they can expect from the new app.
Commonwealth Bank representatives were anxious to point out that the app brings feature partity to all platforms, although there should probably be a slight asterisk after that – Windows Phone misses out on mobile payments, and Android misses out on “Bump” payments – at least, for now. We’re told the Android team is working on it.
The big news is that CommBank is finally bringing contactless payments to Android. The feature is to be known as Tap & Pay and will use the NFC chip on “supported devices” and a CommBank-supplied NFC tag called a “Smart PayTag” on others.
Tap & Pay – NFC, Smart PayTags
Commonwealth Bank representatives confirmed the trend we’ve seen elsewhere – the online world is going mobile in a big way. Today, 56% of their logins come from mobile devices so it’s important that their offerings stay in line with the devices that their customers are using and the way in which they’re using them.
While the representatives on hand wouldn’t be drawn on which devices would make the “supported” list, we’re expecting at least Samsung‘s flagship device range and hoping for others. Support for the NFC chips found in Google’s own Nexus devices would be great, but we again heard the “access to the secure element” lament, which suggests that little has changed in this regard despite Commonwealth Bank and Google offices being a few minutes’ walk from each other. It seems possible that they might be less interested in talking to Google since they’ve got their own solution, anyway.
CommBank will use Smart PayTags (seen here attached to a device from a non-Android manufacturer) on unsupported devices or those without NFC chips (again, as seen above). The PayTags are basically an NFC tag that you can you can stick to anything you might wish to use to make payments. CommBank expects consumers to stick it to the back of their phone, but it can really be stuck to anything you like.
A customer can order a Smart PayTag from within the app for a fee of $2.99. When the tag arrives in the mail, it can be activated from within the app. Once activated, the PayTag can be switched on and off, and the account to which it’s connected can be set via the app. There’s no actual communication between your device and the tag – the switch is done at CommBank’s end.
In many ways, the PayTags can be seen as an evolution of CommBank’s original iPhone Kaching cases – instead of building a new case for every device out there, you just stick the tag to your preferred device. We have a feeling there’s a stockpile of old cases hanging around somewhere in their HQ. It also neatly sidesteps any carrier involvement in the process and simplifies the process for the consumer.
While the Smart PayTag is a neat idea, the fact that customers have to pay for it is a little disappointing. While the fee’s low enough to be considered disposable, we’d rather see the fee waived entirely to encourage consumer uptake.
You’ll be able to use the app to pay your friends quickly and easily using their email address, phone number from details stored in your phone or a Facebook contact. After making a payment, you can share the details to let them know.
When your friends receive the payment details they’ll be able to receive their money through the app or the desktop site, even if they’re not Commonwealth Bank customers.
The app will also feature ATM and branch locators with advanced search functionality so you can find a branch that can help you with a specific service.
Existing BPAY functionality will also be extended, with the ability to recognise QR codes from the device’s camera to make bill payments easier.
A release window for the new app wasn’t specified — despite repeated queries, all we’re told is that it’ll be released “in the coming months”. When the new app is released, we’re led to believe that Kaching will be retired in favour of it.
Demonstrations at the event were performed on iPhones, but we’re trying to get hold of some more screenshots of the Android version, and waiting to hear back regarding tablet support. In the meantime, you can check out the below “screenshot”, which may also demonstrate CommBank’s support of cookies. 😉
We’re looking forward to seeing the new version of the app. Once it’s available we’ll let you know and do a deeper dive on it.
Does the new Commonwealth Bank app make you more willing to consider their services, or stop you switching to another bank? Does it increase your confidence that they’re taking mobile payments seriously?