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.
Banks are seizing the opportunity to overhaul or improve their websites and the variety of banking you can now do online with the aid of very clever smartphone apps.
We’re seeing a procession of advances in this area. Simple things like the ability to check your balance quickly without the need to log in or completing ID requirements online make a world of difference to time-poor customers. There’s no doubt that the banks have risen to the demand of this now very different way of interacting with customers.
Here are a few of the online developments (listed alphabetically) that have caught the eyes of the CANSTAR Research team in recent times.
Setting up or changing a PIN number is a tiresome chore that usually requires a trip to the bank. Not anymore. According to ANZ, roughly 750,000 customer visits to their branches every year are by customers who have a new card or simply want to reset their forgotten PIN. So ANZ did something about it. You can now set and change your PINs for any card – eftpos, debit and credit – whenever you wish through ANZ’s internet banking or the goMoney app. This ability to change PIN numbers remotely is an example of a small improvement that has a giant impact. Those 750 customers now don’t have to leave work or home to go to an ANZ branch to set up or reset their PINS. The customer can do it on the net or mobile phone anytime, anywhere, including overseas.
When it comes to home loans,ASB is leading the way with an extra home loan payment feature that allows you to make an extra home loan payment in real-time from your mobile phone. A clear display will show you the savings impact that particular amount will have on your loan should you continue to make the extra repayment in the future. ASB tells us there has been a strong uplift in the number of extra home loan payments, with customers making over 6,000 payments per month from their digital channels, two and a half times higher than the number of payments made in branch or via the contact centre. In less than a year since this feature was launched, mobile now makes up 28% of extra home loan payments at ASB.
BNZ has been busy enhancing the user functionality of its award-winning YouMoney, giving customers more control, insight and ultimately better decision making around the control of their financial affairs. The improvements include the introduction of personalized, relevant and timely tool tips (which ensure the new features and services we introduce are understood and so their value to customers is maximized), ensuring customers have full visibility of their Life and General Insurance products (which can often be an out of sight, out of mind area of personal financial management) and the introduction of improved credit card management and reporting capabilities.
From a social perspective BNZ has launched a dedicated BNZ Community site that enables BNZ customers to connect and share tips and tricks on money and attitudes towards it.
Speaking of homes, Kiwibank’s Home Hunter has reinvented home buying for all New Zealanders on smartphones, tablets and desktops. It gives you access to the latest listings and images from RealEstate.co.nz but the big difference is that Kiwibank adds a helpful financial component to the search. It will give you an idea of what sort of money the property is likely to sell for. It also pre-approves all properties in Home Hunter so any property with a green tick means it’s in your price range and Kiwibank will lend on it. If you’re on a smartphone or a tablet, you can also scan the streets for nearby homes for sale. And lastly, using the sun finder option at open homes gives you an idea of the sunshine that property receives at any time of the year. Oddly enough, this feature is proving very popular with the boy scouts who are using it to pitch their tents in exactly the right direction to avoid being woken up by the sun!
SBS has focussed on giving its customers faster speeds and less scrolling with its newly-designed home page. Available balances can now be displayed on the home page. Quick transfers and quick payments (pay up to 20 payees at once which differs from a batch payment) and instant 12-month payee summary are all features which enhance customers’ online banking experience.
Westpac’s new WestpacOne offers full banking functionality – 120-plus services – on an integrated platform for smartphone, tablet and desktop. Customers don’t need to login to perform high frequency tasks such as checking all account balances and transferring money between accounts. Of course, customers also have the option of logging in through PIN access for full banking services. Helpful functions include using one click to place and remove a temporary block on banking and credit cards if a purse or wallet goes missing. You can now make international payments from mobile devices. Westpac One also allows you to apply for and activate all everyday banking products – home loans, personal loans, credit cards and term deposits – in less than 60 seconds with instant decisions and straight through processing.
There are plenty of other things happening – there’s no doubt that as our love of all things online grows, the digital innovation of New Zealand financial institutions grows along with it. Watch this space!