Three of the Big Four banks are working on a new mobile app that will enable customers to make instant payments.
Commonwealth Bank, National Australia Bank and Westpac are collaborating on Beem, a new app that will allow people to make instant payments via their smartphones, or request payment from someone.
The Beem app will be available to individuals and small businesses, and will not be limited to CBA, NAB and Westpac customers.
Users will be required to “hold a global scheme debit card issued by an Australian Authorised Deposit-taking Institution” – which presumably means a locally issued MasterCard or Visa debit card.
Beem is being set up as an independently run joint venture, and other institutions will be encouraged to participate.
According to CBA research, “two thirds of small businesses say they are owed money for completed work, with around $7,300 owed to small traders,” said Commonwealth Bank group executive of retail banking services Matt Comyn.
“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.”
Westpac consumer bank chief executive George Frazis said: “Customers will soon be able to ‘Beem’ free payments instantly using any smartphone, regardless of who they bank with and without the need to add account details.”
NAB COO Antony Cahill added: “Think about all the times you’ve gone out for dinner and split the bill – this app will make it easy for Australians to pay their family and friends instantly. Or, when you go to the local market and need to pay the butcher – this means instant payment through your phone. This is the industry working together to deliver an innovative payments solution, no matter who you bank with.”
iOS and Android versions of Beem are planned for release before the end of the year, although it will be interesting to see how it’s differentiated from the two other Beem apps on Google Play – one being a Jabber client , the other for in-house social networking.
The initial transaction limits will be $200 a day for payments, and $10,000 a month for receipts.
Beem sounds like a cheap (free) and simple way for small businesses – especially service businesses – to accept smaller electronic payments.