Westpac: Taking augmented reality to new heights

When it comes to innovation, New Zealand punches well above its population weight. So each year the Research team at Canstar assess the business products and services developed by New Zealand financial institutions to determine which ones represent innovation excellence. Each year we are impressed with the results.

This year Canstar has chosen two outstanding products from 16 submissions to our Innovation Excellence Awards. One of these products is Westpac’s Augmented Reality.

Westpac NZ has taken traditional account and spend data and brought it to life in a unique, visual and deeply insightful way for customers. Customers can now use augmented reality and its 3D imagery to check their credit and debit card balances, see their last five transactions and spend locations, categorise spending over a five week period, be reminded when payments are due, check their hotpoints® balance.

A world first, the app delivers real time account information and insight to customers in a visual and interactive way – simply by placing their card underneath their phone camera.

Canstar caught up with Simon Pomeroy, Chief Digital Officer at Westpac New Zealand Limited, for a quick Q&A on the award-winning product.


Q: You commented in the submission that 50% of customers who log in to online and mobile banking want more insight into their everyday banking. What types of insights are they wanting?


A: Measuring and analysing customer behaviour is important to Westpac and by doing so allows us to deliver faster, easier and more personalised insight to our customers. Simple questions like: “What is my balance?” “How much have I spent this month and on what?” “Can I afford this purchase?” and “How much could I save?” are questions are customers are constantly asking.

Customers are using mobile devices check their bank account balances at least once a day, and through solutions like Augmented Reality, Quick Balance widgets, balances on smart watch, as well as integrating Moven’s money management tools we’ve seen a 25% increase in online activity.

Q: Why 3D imagery? Do people better engage with information when it’s 3D?

A: In short – because reality is 3D. The beauty of Augmented Reality is how it can overlay information over real world items. By making the graphics 3D we’ve allowed the information to move dynamically with the 3D card it is connected to. It also make the app a little more fun and engaging as the graphic moves – allowing you to see the information from different angles.

Q: Has the AR Banking app been popular?

A: When we launched the App we had a significant amount of media attention and this led to a surge in downloads. The feedback we’ve had from customers as well as industry commentators has generally been positive, but it’s early days for Augmented Reality in banking and we’re taking the initiative to test the market with some new innovative tools. We’ll continue to evolve our ideas, but at this stage we’re committed that AR has a role to play in our wider digital strategy.

Q: You mention the wider digital strategy – can you share some possible future Augmented Reality developments?

A: There is a lot of opportunity- from helping customer’s find ATM’s more easily to how Augmented Reality can play a role when customers are looking to make purchases. This could be when shopping overseas it automatically converts the cost of an item in to $NZ and at the same time tells you your active credit card balance so you see if you can afford it. Equally you can point the app at a house that’s for sale and not only will it tell you the estimated price and more detailed property information, but also allow you to get conditional approval for a home loan for the value that you may need.


Canstar congratulates Westpac on its Innovation Excellence win.

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