Bank of Ireland being left behind on new payment methods

Cantillon: Bank risks missing boat on technologies such as Android and Apple Pay

Ulster Bank and KBC have adopted Apple’s  contactless payment technology Apple Pay in Ireland.  Photograph: Maxim Zmeyev/Reuters

Ulster Bank and KBC have adopted Apple’s contactless payment technology Apple Pay in Ireland. Photograph: Maxim Zmeyev/Reuters

 

When Android Pay launched in December last year, it was to a great fanfare. The contactless payment method allows customers to use a compatible phone to pay for goods and services in shops, with an extra layer of security for purchases over the €30 threshold that was imposed on contactless cards.

Card numbers aren’t shared with retailers, making it more secure for users.

AIB and KBC were first out of the gate with the new payment method, although Google promised that more banks would follow.

Just a few weeks ago, Apple launched its contactless payment technology Apple Pay in Ireland. Same principle as Android Pay, same level of convenience, and secured with a fingerprint or code.

This time, it was Ulster Bank and KBC who adopted it immediately. KBC has embraced the move fully, saying it is in line with its digital strategy for its customers. Again, others are likely to follow.

Compatible with any contactless terminal, the days of having to carry plastic cards appeared numbered.

So where, in all of this, is Bank of Ireland? One of the biggest banks in the State appears to have missed the boat when it comes to the new technology.

Another product

It’s a topical issue as it appears we are on the brink of seeing yet another contactless technology introduced here, with Samsung Pay predicted to launch in mid- to late-summer.

Could the bank be biding its time? You could argue that there aren’t enough people interested in both Apple and Android Pay in Ireland to justify the bank making that leap, but offering the option to customers should at least be contemplated. And looking at other markets where the contactless technology is already in use doesn’t really bear the “market size” theory out.

According to Apple’s most recent results, for example, the number of Apple Pay users has tripled in the last year, and chief executive Tim Cook told analysts in January that the service racked up billions in transactions during the December quarter. As the service launches in more countries and with more retailers, that is only going to increase.

In London, for example, you can use Apple and Android Pay on public transport, something that Samsung’s vice-president of mobile for UK and Ireland Conor Pierce says he would like to see introduced in Ireland.

Bank of Ireland risks being left behind by customers if it fails to capitalise on yet another new technology entering the market.

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