Got bank, in pocket

Some of us can remember a time when the only way of interacting with a bank was to pick up the phone or visit a branch. Many of today’s banking customers, including myself, have their bank with them 24/7; most are just a click or a swipe away from a transaction, a balance check or a new account. This incredible access, together with an impressive and seemingly never ending series of innovations, sees mobile banking poised to go mainstream.

Well, actually it already is!

It’s a trend that’s taken off worldwide. Globally it’s predicted that the number of mobile banking users will pass the 1 billion mark by 2017, up from 590 million two years ago. And here at home in New Zealand, Kiwi banking customers are embracing the increased functionality and user experience with equal enthusiasm.

For the third year, CANSTAR has measured what New Zealand banks are doing to service customers in online channels, evaluating more than 300 pieces of information from seven institutions.  Together with ease of use, our Research team also examined functionality in online banking through desktop, smartphones/mobiles as well as the overarching virtual umbrella that is the banks’ website.

Personally I have to say that the pace of change in online banking is exciting. It’s increasingly easy to do almost all of your banking on the go, and banks are embracing the challenge of this (now) very different way of interacting with customers.

There’s a lot to like about mobile banking and the Research team has been genuinely impressed.  We’ve noticed a concerted drive by banks towards improvement in usability and core features. Some are big, others smaller, but all are destined to make a huge impact on convenience.

There’s also strong evidence to suggest that it’s helping customers to keep closer tabs on their finances.

Emerging from the pack this year to claim the Online Banking Award for the first time, is Westpac; you can read a Q&A with Westpac here and of course download our Online Banking Award report here.  Westpac has been working hard to take its online banking experience to a new level. Westpac One offers full banking functionality – 120 plus services – on an integrated platform for smartphone, tablet and desktop. This platform topped the scores in almost all online banking and website features we reviewed to provide a user-friendly online banking service. With clever, streamlined processes like a ‘no login balance check or transfer between accounts’, helpful functionality and super-fast application/activation/approval processes for everyday banking products, Westpac One is an impressive offering.

Simon Pomeroy, Chief Digital Officer Westpac, has told us that the objective is for Westpac customers to have the ability to do most, if not all of their banking online, on all devices.

“More than half our customers are using online banking regularly and this number is rising every month,” he said. “We’re also finding that customers are using multiple devices throughout the day, switching between phone, tablet and desktop, and we’ve found through benchmarking that our customers’ digital usage is one of the highest in banking globally.

“We’ll continue to innovate and develop Westpac One to deliver an even better customer experience, on whatever smart devices our customers choose to bank on in the future.”

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