St George builds on its mobile banking capabilities

The bank has made further inroads in its strategy to allow customers to do everything they need without ever having to step into a branch.

Customer feedback has pushed St George to extend the number of savings and transactions accounts customers can open online via its mobile banking app.

Once customers have signed up for an account via the app, they can begin to use the account immediately.

The move is part of St George’s strategy to allow customers with the bank, as well as BankSA and Bank of Melbourne, to do everything online which they would normally do in a branch, with the bank investing more than $10 million in its mobile banking platform.

“With more than 40 per cent of our online customer activity carried out via mobile, we have a continuous and agile approach to developing the channel to ensure we are meeting customer needs and taking advantage of trends and opportunities,” Travis Tyler, head of e-channels at St George, told Computerworld Australia.

However, the rapid introduction of new mobile devices in the market is proving to be challenging for the bank, according to Tyler, and developing apps across multiple smartphones, such as iPhones, Androids, BlackBerrys and Windows.

“We also face the same issue with the variety of tablets coming onto the market and for Internet banking as well where we support different browsers which are continually being updated,” Tyler said.

St George previously announced the ability to open savings and transaction accounts via its mobile banking app in April this year, with customers now also able to open the bank’s direct saver and complete freedom accounts. BankSA and Bank of Melbourne customers can also apply for new accounts via the app.

The app also allows customers to renew a term deposit account and update contact details online, which they previously were unable to. The viewable transaction history has also been extended from 30 days to 90 days.

St George, BankSA and Bank of Melbourne now have 1.1 million customers on the St George Internet banking platform and 400,000 customers on its mobile banking platform.

In June this year, St George released its pay-to-mobile app which allows users to send payments on their smartphone using a recipient’s mobile number using near field communication (NFC).

“Thanks to the smartphone boom, Australians are now more connected than ever before and St. George Banking Group has seen remarkable growth in the use of our mobile banking apps. In fact, we anticipate that over the next 18 months, mobile banking usage will overtake traditional online banking as the preferred customer channel,” said George Frazis, St. George Banking Group CEO, in a statement.

However, Commonwealth Bank of Australia was the first on the NFC scene with Kaching, the world's first commercially available iPhone app that utilised NFC technology.

While it hit the mobile banking scene late, Credit Union Australia (CUA) also launched a mobile banking platform with a mobile app for iPhones and Androids in July this year.

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