The Israeli payments market is finally aligning with many other countries around the world with the launch of Apple Pay in Israel. Simultaneously, Bank Hapoalim (major Israeli bank), which is behind money transfer app - Bit, announced a new feature that strays from the app’s standard money transfer option, now allowing users to shop in-store and online.
Digital credit issued in minutes
During 2020 most major Israeli credit cards launched a mobile pay option on Anroid supported devices, allowing users to theoretically pay via their smartphone. Now, Bit also launches a digital wallet and a semi-digital credit card called bitcard. Bit explains that the new bitcard, which is issued by Israeli credit card company Cal, can be ordered directly from the app. A couple of minutes later and the card can be used in stores with registers that support NFC, while the physical card is sent via messenger.
iPhone people, at least until the Apple Pay launch expected in the coming weeks, can in the meantime order the physical card through the app. According to the iOS Changelog, “with the new bitcard, you can purchase with Apple Pay,” meaning that Apple Pay will support the Bit feature.
Holders of Mastercard and Isracard can also enjoy the digital wallet with supporting registers. This adds another player to Isracard and Max’s Anypay, which already runs mobile pay options. Bit told us that the bitcard will be issued at no cost and with no card fees while also mentioning that the subject will be up for debate again in a couple of years.
The future of Bit
Bit is considered a major player in the money transfer business, with an estimated market share of more than 50%. One of the key reasons behind the app’s success is the massive subsidies from stakeholder Bank Hapoalim, who doesn’t charge fees from users, and awards them with different benefits. It’s estimated that Bank Hapoalim has invested millions of dollars in the app and its promotion, and it sees the app as a future revenue stream.
Despite the digital payment advancement, it’s important to remember that this digital credit card launch essentially helps further cement Bank Hapoalim’s holdings in the Israeli credit card market. Bank Hapoalim has already once before been forced to sell its Isracard activity as part of free-market laws and regulations.