Westpac's keyboard app on iTunes
Westpac's keyboard app on iTunes itunes.apple.com

Apple has effectively shut down Westpac’s mobile banking keyboard app. The Australian bank will remove its Westpac Keyboard function on iOS in July after the US-based tech giant pulled the plug on it.

The keyboard app, which was launched in March for iOS devices, changes a device’s default keyboard into the Westpac app to allow users to send money through messaging and use cardless cash codes to withdraw money from ATMs. It has thousands of downloads and is said to be Westpac’s effort to get teens and young adults into banking.

However, Apple has put a stop to it. Australian Financial Review reports that the iPhone-maker told the bank to cancel the app. The reason behind the decision is unclear, with Apple only sending Westpac a generic explanation that suggests keyboards should not be able to send money or that it may offend some users.

“This is disappointing for us and the thousands of customers who are currently using it,” a spokesman from the bank said. “We apologise to our customers for any inconvenience caused and thank them for their continued support.”

Apple has previously approved similar apps from other banks, including ICICI Bank in India and the Banco Sabadell and CaixaBank in Spain. Sources told AFR that Westpac had already addressed security concerns initially raised by Apple regarding the keyboard app, and so there must be other reasons for the decision.

An industry insider claimed to the publication that Apple just wanted to eliminate competition. It apparently wanted to launch its own payments keyboard but Westpac launched its own first.

“If Apple lets Westpac do this then it will be compelled to let other banks do it, and not all global banks have Westpac’s capability and resources. So if any bank anywhere globally screws it up, then Apple is the one that wears the hit by association,” the insider said. “However, at this stage, it really does look like an anti-competitive move from Apple, where they are just shouting ‘get off my future lawn.’”

Apple and Westpac did not have a great relationship to start with. Westpac is one of the major Australian banks that had refused Apple Pay. According to the multinational company, Westpac, National Australia Bank, Commonwealth Bank of Australia are leading other banks in demanding Apple to open access to its iPhone digital wallet. Australia and New Zealand Banking Group is the only major bank in Australia that allows its customers to use Apple Pay.

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