Commonwealth Bank to roll out new ‘smart terminals’ that could soon offer BNPL at the counter

Commonwealth Bank to roll out new ‘smart terminals’ that could soon offer BNPL at the counter
CBA CEO Matt Comyn. Photo: Getty
  • The Commonwealth Bank will roll out new touchscreen “smart terminals” to merchants from next week.
  • The terminals will run on the Android operating system, and come fit with a suite of business apps.
  • CBA says that its app marketplace will soon be open to third-party developers, and could soon host alternative payment methods, like buy now, pay later providers Afterpay and Zip.
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The Commonwealth Bank of Australia is set to roll out a fleet of new “smart” point-of-sale terminals next week in a bid to stave off efforts from fintech disruptors like Square, which is currently in the midst of acquiring buy now, pay later giant AfterPay. 

“We are challenging the challengers head on,” CBA’s head of business banking, Mike Vacy-Lyle, said.

“We have a significant share of devices in the field and of business customers, and we think with our reach and scale, we can take them on head on and beat them at their own game.”

The new smart terminals will be made available to merchants from October 25, fit with a touch screen and “app marketplace” featuring a suite of industry-tailored apps for the health, hospitality and not-for-profit sectors. 

CBA’s new terminals — and the app marketplace — will run on the Android operating system, which the bank says will soon be able to host third-party apps and, in theory, third-party payment methods, like Zip and Afterpay, at point-of-sale.

As it stands none of the major bank’s competitors are set to be excluded from the terminal’s app store, a spokesperson for CBA said. 

Zip Co’s director of corporate affairs, Matthew Abbott, said the move shows how important the BNPL space has become to Australian businesses.

“Deals like this highlight how merchants see the value in BNPL, and at Zip, we are always looking for ways to make integration easier for our customers,” Abbott said.

Vacy-Lyle said the new terminals include a raft of built-in features, like split payments and tipping, that some industries have long been calling for. 

“The new, smarter features will be particularly useful for hospitality, retail, and healthcare businesses, helping merchants save time with inbuilt surcharging and tipping, and same day settlements to help manage cash flow,” Vacy-Lyle said.

“This means businesses can spend more time serving their customers and focusing on what matters most to them in their business.”

Later in the year, CBA says it will begin rolling out expanded payment options, including a mobile secure card reader — similar to Square’s white point-of-sale card reader — called the Smart Mini Pay, which will take chip and contactless payments. 

CBA currently claims a 21% share of the Australian terminal market, and it hopes the new terminals will attract new customers to the bank, as it continues to compete National Australia Bank. 

The terminals themselves emerge as part of a new tech-centric strategy revealed by CBA CEO Matt Comyn in May in response to the success of the buy now, pay later space. 

At the time, the bank said it would move beyond pushing traditional banking products like loans and savings accounts to instead create a digital ecosystem of products and services targeted at retailers and business customers that could each integrate with one another, like eBay or Afterpay. 

CBA still retains the lion’s share of users in Australia, with about 10 million across its retail products and 700,000 business customers, compared to Afterpay’s 3.5 million retail users, and 35,000 merchants.