253912-d7e7e77c-6ac7-11e4-acb0-c10dc8236620Optus has announced a Cash by Optus, a new NFC-based payment service for Australia, but this one comes with a bit of a difference. It’s actually available now, it works on just about any modern Android smartphone (as long as it has NFC), and it’s available for all post-paid Optus customers. Better yet, it’ll work with any contactless terminal. Why isn’t this bigger news?

Launched in partnership with Heritage Bank (who have a fair bit of experience with prepaid card products), Cash by Optus operates as a virtual Visa payWave debit card which you can load with up to $500 at any one time. Once loaded, customers can use the Cash by Optus app to pay for purchases under $100 at any contactless terminal.

The solution from Optus doesn’t require users to bank with a particular bank, and is billed as an alternative to carrying small change or having to make small withdrawals from the bank to pay for coffee (for example).

The product comes with all the normal security backing that a prepaid debit card would have. Lose your phone? Easy to cancel your account and refund your cash back to you. You can close your account whenever you like, and dispute transactions that you haven’t authorised.

A full list of Cash by Optus’ features follows:

  • Check the amount of money you have remaining in real time, with an internet connection.
  • Display detailed transaction history, great for people who like to keep track of purchases for security and budgeting.
  • Filter and review your transaction history by date.
  • Report a fault through the app and request a call back from the support team.
  • Use the app without opening it on your phone. On most phones, it works even if the battery is flat.
  • Breathe easy about accidental payments – you need to hold your mobile within four centimetres of the contactless terminal.
  • Not worry about obvious cash branding on your phone. There’s no sticker to let people know that the phone has the app which is great for security.
  • Buy stuff online or over the phone using the virtual card, for purchases up to $250.

For more information or to register for Cash by Optus, head to www.optus.com.au/cash.


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Everyone ragging on this should be reminded of the saying “don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good”. Sure, we should have payment systems that use HCE and standard NFC chips because it makes the most sense, but given that nobody but CUA seems to be pushing that forward in this country currently, I don’t have an issue with Optus throwing their hat into the ring with their own solution. It might not be exactly what we want, but it’ll solve the problem until somebody comes along and solves it better. Hell, if you’re eligible, you don’t even… Read more »


As an FYI, the app wouldn’t register on my rooted G3.

Ran fine after putting Rootcloak on it. Will be testing it tomorrow.


Hmm… The app on my G2 keeps saying that the phone is incompatible, even with rootcloak enabled. Odd.

Jason Davis

Got my new sim, can’t see any physical diffenrence to a regular sim.
The phones NFC doesn’t detect anything either


This is why Android will gain far more NFC traction than Apple Pay, it has a ‘neutral’ profile, to device, issuer, app etc…..Apple have placed themselves in a corner!


Will Ausdroid be getting a sim and giving us a review?


Its already dead. Don’t companies think, using secure sim is a fail concept and yet they still want to adopt it, just use NFC and token technology like apple pay or wat MasterCard and visa is implementing next yr


It would only be dead if there was already a competitor in the market. Cash by Optus is available now and is not simply a promise of ‘coming next year’. Optus customers wanting to pay with their mobile right now can do it. You’re right though that it will have strong competition next year and the secure sim may be a handicap that future options don’t have.


An Important Detail missing from the article, you need to apply to get a Cash By Optus SIM.
Looking at the list of devices that Optus are permitting to use the app, there’s no sign of Nexus devices, and the only HTC in the list is the M7.


This is a great start, but I really wish we could just see Google Wallet hit Australia.

Or if nothing else, the banks come up with their own apps. I know CommBank have made a good start but as @duncan_j:disqus mentioned, I’m not putting a sticker on my phone either, especially considering all the necessary technology is built right into the phone.


How does it work when the phone is flat??? Sounds like a sticker then 🙁

Rajiv Dhinakaran

The NFC chip in your phone is a 2 way device – when reading NFC stickers it provides power by generating the field. But when functioning as a card it is powered by the reader’s (PayWave terminal) field and so can operate even in the absence of power. This tells me that the SIM actually preauthorises the NFC chip with $100 at a time and so it can make payments of upto $100 without power after which you need to turn the phone ON for further transactions.


Edit – Nope looks like it doesn’t use the phones NFC at all, but appears to be using a NFC built into the simcard, hence why it can work when the phone is flat. Basically its a ‘fancy’ NFC sticker that is built into the sim card. You need to have a new SIM card replacement for this to work. 🙁 I’m pretty sure the NFC chips in mobile phones don’t work without POWER from the phone itself, unlike the credit cards/NFC stickers. Its a pretty big claim to say “Use the app without opening it on your phone. On… Read more »


If they are specifying certain phone models I doubt it is an nfc enabled sim solution. It will be a secure element sim working with the phone’s nfc chip and antenna. If a default card setting is enabled within the se sim then it is possible for payments to be made without power on the phone. The reader will generate sufficient power through the nfc antenna loop to allow for either sim or device secure element to provide the card emulation. This is only if Optus’ solution allows a default card to be set. There are good security reasons for… Read more »


I’d say its not a big thing just because of its demographic limitations Optus only has about a quarter of the mobile phone market and its not available for their pre paid and then you need to take into account the amount of people who actually care enough to investigate it. And then you have the $100 limit as well All this makes it not that many people interested. but its a good start would be real nice if Visa and mastercard let you do it with the nfc chip on your phone then it wouldn’t really matter what bank… Read more »


There’s a secondary point as to why it’s not a big thing, outside of SEQ/northern NSW, the business footprint of Heritage Bank is still small. So to many users looking at the idea, when they see which bank is backing the thing, it won’t be an immediately recognisable Brand.


great start for Australia, BUT can we please find the optus director of design and just shot them? The colours, the font, the layout eeeek. not very useful criticism i realise but man.

Still waiting for contactless payment on my N5 with commbank, and no , I’m not putting a sticker on my phone.

Jason Davis

Running the app, even though i dont have the sim yet, it does require the phones NFC to be enabled.


which app Optus or Commbank?

Jason Davis

The new Optus app required to use this service.
I launched it to check it out, and it requested i enable NFC.
Then it wouldn’t progress any further as it checked my sim and didnt find the new sim this requires.

Optus social media team (via twitter) have said you don’t have to order the new sim online, apparently their stores have them now so you should be able to walk in and get it.


Can I get a copy of the APK can’t get it on the play store because I only have a nexus 4