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Apple Pay Will Finally Arrive in Poland. Five Banks, Including Alior, BZ WBK and mBank, Are in Negotiations

So far, the news is not official, but it has been confirmed by several independent sources

As you may know, several banks on the Polish market have been technically prepared to introduce Apple Pay for a long time now. They are the same companies that have implemented Mastercard or Visa's tokenization solutions. Tokenization is an easy and secure way of connecting your payment card number with, for instance, a mobile device. It's the technology used by the iPhone manufacturer's Apple Pay service.

Mastercard and Visa's tokenization is also used for HCE and Android Pay payments, which are becoming more and more popular in Poland. This means that at least several local banks could make Apple Pay available to their customers very quickly, if only the Cupertino based company decided to introduce its payment solution to Poland.

Well, from what I managed to find out - the decision has been made. My sources say that at some point in December banks operating in Poland received an offer from Apple to make Apple Pay available to their customers. The potential implementation will take place with active support from payment companies, including mainly Mastercard. So far, I haven’t been able to find out whether Visa will be involved as well.

Related: Bancovo, Alior's New Venture, Will Sell Loans Online

Unfortunately, some of the companies declined Apple's offer, but five banks went into negotiations. Those five banks include Alior, BZ WBK and mBank. Now the only thing standing in the way of Apple Pay in Poland is establishing the financial conditions, that is the commission that banks would have to pay to Apple for mobile transactions performed by the banks’ customers using iPhones.

This is where I see several potential problems. Let me remind you that interchange - the banks’ income from card transactions - is currently low at 0.2-0.3 percent of the transaction amount, depending on whether it's a debit or credit card. So there is not much to share here, and the price of making Apple Pay available has been known to cause conflict between banks and the American company.

This was the case for instance in Australia where financial companies didn't want to pay Apple's fees and demanded the company give them access to their phones’ NFC module, which would allow them to create their own payment solutions. In the end the banks didn't achieve their goal. It's also worth mentioning that Apple's main competitor, Google, operates its Android Pay service with no charge to the banks offering it to their customers.

Related: As Much As 78 percent Mastercard Card Transactions In Poland Are Contactless

On the other hand, iPhone owners can be described as a particular consumer group, probably more affluent in its majority than most bank customers and one that uses financial services more often than the average card and account holder. Banks can therefore come to the conclusion that for the sake of bettering their relations with their iPhone using customers it might pay off to offer Apple Pay, even if transactions made using it will bring them only a symbolic income or perhaps even none at all.

On the other end of this issue, the American tech giant may be intent on introducing its payment service to Poland because the country has a highly developed contactless payment network. Over 90 percent of terminals have contactless functionalities and soon all deices will be compatible with solutions such as Apple Pay. This has a huge influence on transactionality, which Google is currently happy to experience with Android Pay.

Meanwhile, foreign media outlets say that the number of Apple Pay transactions in various countries is not that high due to a low saturation of compatible terminals in the acceptant network. The introduction of Apple Pay in Poland may result in a high number of transactions despite a relatively low number of iPhone users, which could constitute a positive impulse for the service.

So, what happens now? From what my sources tell me, the banks which received offers from Apple to introduce their payment method to their offer have to negotiate the financial conditions of the deal. If they come to an agreement, Apple Pay will probably become available in Poland in the second quarter of 2018, but it may also happen as soon as the first quarter.

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