National Australia Bank, Commonwealth Bank and Westpac have formed a joint venture to develop a new free mobile payment app – Beem – in Australia.

Beem enables instant payments for all Australians, including small businesses, regardless of who they bank with. The app is compatible with both iOS and Android mobile devices.

It will be offered to all bank customers and small businesses that hold a global scheme debit card issued by an Australian Authorised Deposit-taking Institution.

The app will use bank-level security and encrypted account information to authenticate every transaction and subject it to fraud monitoring.

Users can initially send up to $6,000 and receive $10,000 per month as an initial risk control measure.

Westpac consumer bank chief executive George Frazis said: “Innovations such as Beem and wearables are leading the way in payment solutions because they’re convenient, easy to use, and fit in with people’s lifestyles – we firmly believe in going to where our customers are and providing them with greater choice.”

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Commonwealth Bank retail banking services group executive Matt Comyn said: “Two thirds of small businesses say they are owed money for completed work, with around $7,300 owed to small traders.

“Beem will give small businesses a cost effective and easy way to collect payments instantly and on the go for their goods and services, without having to take the larger leap into using merchant credit facilities, or issuing invoices to be paid later.”

Commenting on the move, NAB COO Antony Cahill said: “Think about all the times you’ve gone out for dinner and split the bill – this app will make it easy for Australians to pay their family and friends instantly.

“Or, when you go to the local market and need to pay the butcher – this means instant payment through your phone. This is the industry working together to deliver an innovative payments solution, no matter who you bank with.”