Commbank has just released a new version of the Android CommBank app, which basically leaves it as a highly polished competitor to Katching. Considering Commbank own both of these apps I’m a bit of a loss as to what their strategy might be or what the future holds for these apps. I suspect Kaching might be ready for an early retirement but it’s not a bet I’d put money on as Commbank’s mobile stradegy is quite unpredictable.
Firstly, before I delve into it’s failures, I applaud Commbank for being the first to get Tap and Pay technology out in Australia and the app itself is beautifully executed. Although there are some weird UX issues like the repeated menu options in different places, and there are the 4 separate ways to log out of the app. However even with these weird UX decisions the app is silky smooth and looks great. Unfortunately the underlying technology let the app down when we put the app to the test. In our real life scenario it failed dismally. It took 5 attempts to download the “secure card information” when we tried to setting it up, and when we finally got it up and running it failed to process a single payment after multiple attempts.
The other major issue is the number of devices supported, or should I say the 1 device supported because if you don’t have a Galaxy S4 you’re out of luck. Of course you can order a $3 NFC sticker which you can stick to the back of your phone that will likely interfere with any existing NFC technology already built into your phone. Then there is the $3 a year fee for using the service, but rest assured they do give you 12 months of free use which is great because at the moment it doesn’t actual work. Then there is the lack of support for Android 4.4 which has Tap and Pay natively baked in which, all things considered, they can be forgiven for because it’s only just been released. However, if I were the tech lead I would have been looking to push back the release date for a month or so in order to include support.
I know from my own research there are a lot of links in the chain for this type of technology and as such many things could, and do, go wrong. However, technology like this has to be done right from the start. You lose customer confidence over financial based technology and people will abandon it in droves. A lot of people I have talked to recently are already nervous about the PayPass technology, and teething problems like this give them more ammunition against it’s adoption.
Hopefully Commbank can make some speedy fixes for these teething issues and open up support for Android 4.4, hopefully before customers see it as a failed experiment. Until then, If you want to try it out the link is below but you might want to you carry some spare change around as a back up when it fails.
Play store link: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.commbank.netbank