Westpac: Ability to visualise spending is key

As we live an expanding chunk of our lives in the online world, our web interactions have become less of a novelty and more functions-based. This is particularly true of our financial dealings online. For the third year, CANSTAR has measured what the banks are doing in the online space. Our extensive research exercise determines the level of online banking functionality and ease of use each New Zealand financial institution has to offer.

This year CANSTAR is pleased to congratulate Westpac for taking out the CANSTAR Online Banking Award. We caught up with Simon Pomeroy, Chief Digital Officer Westpac New Zealand Limited, for a quick Q&A.

Q:  What percentage of your customers are now utilising online banking services and how significantly has this changed in recent years?
A: More than half of our customers are using online banking regularly and this number continues to rise month on month. We’ve seen significant growth in usage particularly through mobile devices. Our digital usage has been benchmarked as one of the highest in banking globally.

Q: Do you find the majority of customers are now logging on through their mobile phones, or is traditional desktop banking still the most used method?
A: Customers are now using multiple devices throughout the day and switch between their phone, tablet and desktop.  They want the ability to do more of their banking through all of these devices and want it to be as fast and easy as possible.

Westpac One delivers to this and puts full internet banking into the customers pocket. Westpac customers can get a home loan approved in less than 60 seconds now through their smartphone app.

Q: It’s never been easier to keep a close eye on our finances any time of the day. Does online banking help consumers to make more informed decisions?
A: Absolutely. The usage of the quick services on our mobile app show this, making it easier for customers to check balances or being able to transfer money between accounts without needing to login to their smart phone app.

Through our partnership with US start-up Moven we’re already seeing  customers  tapping on their Spending Meter up to five times a day. This tells them what they’ve spent in the current month, compared same time period in previous months. This awareness helps people slow down if they are in the red or move money into their savings account if they are in the green.

The ability to quickly visualise spending behaviour is really important. Over the next six months our customers will be able to see their spend broken into categories showing them how much they’re spending on eating out, grocery shopping and transport. Every time they spend in a category they can receive a real time alert giving them an up to date position of how they are tracking. This isn’t about complex budgeting, it’s saying “if I spend less this month than I did last month I will save more.”

Q: What impact do you expect mobile banking to have on the way consumers apply for things like credit cards, loans or savings accounts online, as well as making extra repayments to existing loans/accounts?
A: Through Westpac One our customers can now apply for credit cards, home and personal loans on all of their devices – smartphone, tablet and desktop. All their information is pre-populated meaning an application can be done in under a minute on any device and they receive a decision within 60 seconds. We have seen a significant increase in applications overall – more than 40% of total applications for these products is now comes through online channels and about a third of these are on mobile devices. We see this number increasing as we continue to make it easier for customers.

Q: Can you tell us about any future online banking plans? Could we one day be able to transfer money from a smart watch, for example?
A: Our objective is to give our customers the ability to do most, if not all of their banking online, on all devices. Our partnership with Samsung is helping us understand not just how customers use devices like the smartphone, tablet and desktop, but also how banking could work through a smart watch or a smart TV.

The great thing about Westpac One is that it allows us to quickly scale these services onto devices that could become the new norm tomorrow.

Readers can find out more about Westpac One here and can download the full CANSTAR Online Banking Award report here.

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