news Less than two months since its launch, downloads of the Kaching mobile payment app from Commonwealth Bank of Australia are going through the roof. With over 110,000 downloads and an app store rating of four stars, Kaching is the second most popular free finance app in the Australian App Store, after the company’s NetBank app, CommBank revealed this week.
CommBank had revealed its plans to launch Kaching in October 2011, describing it as a ‘peer to peer’ social payments strategy that is different from current legacy payments systems.
Erin King, from the Commonwealth Bank Press Office said that more than half of the bank’s 10 million customers presently own a smartphone, and have a high need for convenient and innovative apps. “The momentum this app has gained has been overwhelming, given we have taken a fairly soft approach to marketing it,” King stated. According to David Lindberg, the bank’s executive general manager of cards, payments and retail strategy, Australians are 65 per cent more likely than the British are to bank on their phones.
The combination smartphone application and associated hardware accessory allows users to make fast payments from their mobile phone to anyone via a phone number, email address or Facebook friendship, and to merchants through Near Field Communications (NFC). Apple approved the app in December 2011 and it is available through the company’s iOS App Store. Other similar apps include ANZ Bank’s goMoney system and Pollenizer’s Pygg (which uses Twitter for payments). All these focus on using social networking credentials instead of financial account details to transfer money.
More than 85 per cent of Kaching users prefer the mobile-to-mobile payment method; the company also reports a rapid increase in Facebook payments. Facebook is the second most popular transfer method with customers, representing more than 10 per cent of Kaching transfers. Besides using mobile phone, email and Facebook contacts, users can also pay others using BPAY billers and their NetBank address book. People who are not Commonwealth Bank customers need to have an Australian bank account to receive money paid to them through CommBank Kaching.
“While we knew Facebook would be an important feature to offer our customers, it’s an interesting growth area and indicates a distinct shift towards how Australians are seeking out new ways of making payments,” King explained. “It certainly broadens the mobile channels available and shows just how important it is to keep technology evolving for customers.”
Not everyone is pleased with the way Kaching functions. In October 2011, one of Australia’s leading privacy advocates, Roger Clarke of the Australian Privacy Foundation had expressed concerns about Kaching’s potential to take away the anonymity afforded by paying for goods and services with cash. Clarke had said that people such as VIPs, victims of domestic violence, celebrities, people in sensitive occupations, protected witnesses, and security and undercover law enforcement operatives would not want a complete payments trail collected by their financial institutions.
CommBank has promised that the first release of CommBank Kaching is just the start of the journey with a focus on evolving technology to provide the best customer experience.
Image credit: Still from a CBA video