Kiwibank introduced Apple Pay on Tuesday with chief executive officer Steve Jurkovich hailing the move, saying many of the bank's customers have been wanting to add their Kiwibank card to Apple Pay for a long time.

With Apple Pay, Kiwibank customers will be able to use their iPhone or Apple Watch to make a contactless payment.

The bank said in a press release that Apple Pay purchases were secure as they are authenticated with Face ID, Touch ID, or device passcode, as well as a one-time unique dynamic security code.

Jurkovich said in a post on social media the launch of Apple Pay was a huge achievement.

He said Kiwibank teams had been putting in a lot of work to drive forward its technology transformation over the past few years. 

Apple Pay was one significant delivery from this work, "with plenty more to come soon".

However, critics say New Zealand banks have been too slow to adopt new technologies. 

The bank is seven years behind the ANZ, which brought the technology to NZ shores in 2016.

Kiwibank customers who use Android devices still cannot use their phones for payments as the bank does not yet offer Google Pay.

Commerce Commission chair John Small has said the industry has lagged in bringing in cheaper bank-to-bank payments, which would be enabled by open banking.

The competition watchdog got the ability to regulate bank payments under the new Retail Payments Act, which was passed in 2022.

In preparing for open banking next year, NZ's big four Australian-owned banks will introduce application programming interfaces (APIs) that will allow customers to share their banking data with third-party providers.

Kiwibank is doing it two years later, in 2026.

The bank’s chief digital and technology officer, Hamish Rumbold, told BusinessDesk in June the reason for this is that Kiwibank is smaller than the Australian banks.