Digital demand drives Westpac investment

Bank 'responding proactively and strongly to digitisation', says CEO

Westpac is upping its investment in technology as customers perform more of their transactions digitally.

“Westpac is responding proactively and strongly to digitisation, and we have delivered a range of new products and services to meet customers’ changing needs,” said Westpac Group CEO Gail Kelly as the bank announced its financial results for the first half of fiscal-year 2014.

“We will continue to innovate and invest in this area to deliver even more convenience for customers.”

Westpac spent $531 million on investments in the half, with 47 per cent on growth and productivity initiatives including a new digital and mobile platform and branch tech upgrades.

An additional 24 per cent of the spend went to other technology, including upgrades to security applications, general ledger and payroll systems, as well as the migration of server infrastructure into Westpac’s new data centre.

The bank said it’s moving to phase two of its technology rollout. This includes enabling customers to bank when, where and how they want and a modernisation of banking platforms and infrastructure, it said.

Technology is a big part of branch redesigns under way at Westpac, with new branches increasing use of video conferencing, smart ATMs and other new digital technologies, the bank said. Westpac opened or upgraded 17 Westpac and 54 new St.George branches taking advantage of new technology, it said.

The number of Westpac customers actively using digital and mobile continues to increase, though neither number represents a majority of customers.

In the first half, Westpac said 41.9 per cent of its Australian Financial Services customers (Westpac, St.George and BT Financial) were active on digital services, up from 39.5 per cent in the same period last year.

Read more: ANZ registers efficiency growth

Also, 51.3 per cent of all digital sessions took place on a mobile device in the first half of 2014, compared to 43.5 per cent in the same period last year, Westpac said.

Westpac said digital has driven sales and service improvements with 9 per cent of deposits and 48 per cent of St.George Bank credit card sales via digital. Also, the bank converted 730,000 accounts to e-statements in the reporting period.

Westpac said that online and mobile payment transactions increased 6.9 per cent from the first half of 2013 to the first half of 2014. In comparison, ATM transactions dropped 3.8 per cent, branch transactions 1.8 per cent, telephone transactions dropped 9.5 per cent, and cheques dropped 5.4 per cent.

Westpac last week announced plans to roll out a cardless ATM service in July 2014, following a similar launch by Commonwealth Bank earlier this week.

Read more: Westpac taps Telstra for telecom upgrade

Adam Bender covers telco and enterprise tech issues for Computerworld and is the author of dystopian sci-fi novels We, The Watched and Divided We Fall. Follow him on Twitter: @WatchAdam

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU, or take part in the Computerworld conversation on LinkedIn: Computerworld Australia

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