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Australia’s big four banks have been heavily criticised in a new report by a global analyst firm, which says digital money management provided by their mobile apps is minimal at best – and their apps don’t reflect the banks’ vision of helping customers improve their financial well-being.

According to the report — Best Practices In Australian Mobile Banking Functionality — from Forrester, which reviewed the mobile apps of the Big Four banks in Australia — ANZ Bank, CommBank, National Australia Bank and Westpac — digital banking teams know they need to improve their mobile apps to ensure that they build mobile banking experiences around customer needs and expectations.

But Forrester does have positive comments to make on two of the Big Four — the Commonwealth Bank and Westpac — saying their strong mobile banking functionality are among the world’s best.

While noting that mobile apps are now the touchpoint of choice for millions of Australians, Forrester singles out CommBank and Westpac.

“Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CommBank) and Westpac both performed exceptionally well in functionality — on par with global leaders — and both offer strong money movement features and contextualised marketing and sales capabilities,” Forrester says.

And, according to the Forrester report, CommBank excels at login and security, while Westpac stands out for impressive self-service features.

Forrester also says customers who use the mobile banking app want to access their accounts and perform banking tasks in the easiest way possible.

"All four Aussie banks we reviewed did well here, enabling customers to log in using a quick PIN and a biometric – not only with a fingerprint but also via face recognition.

"CommBank, NAB, and Westpac help customers access information, such as account balances, ATM locations, and product information, before logging in. Westpac lets customers enable and disable overseas travel and global ATM notifications before login.

"NAB gives customers access to foreign exchange rates and savings and loans calculators before login.

“Aussie banks still have some way to go in reassuring customers that the bank is addressing their security and privacy,” Forrester says, adding that CommBank provides extensive security alerts, informing customers of suspicious transactions or when a new or unknown device is used.

But, in line with its generally critical review, Forrester also says Aussie banks fall short of orchestrating seamless digital and physical interactions for customers when it comes to assisted service features.

“When customers need to reach out for help, few Aussie banks provide two-way messaging or a chatbot that can escalate to a human associate if need be,” Forrester writes.

The analyst firm does say that developing mobile services to serve retail banking customers is hard, and Australians have diverse needs and use their smartphones for a variety of banking tasks.

“Meanwhile, digital business teams at established firms must deal with aging infrastructure and finite development budgets,” says Forrester.

It says that at its best, logging in to mobile banking can be a simple, even enjoyable experience for customers – and at its worst, it can be an obstacle to a customer’s mobile engagement.

“Banks have made great strides toward making their login process easier and more convenient. A critical component of this process is ensuring that customers feel reassured that the bank is addressing their security. CommBank excels here by enabling easy, convenient login and offering useful content before logging in; Westpac and NAB also do this well,” Forrester notes.


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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).


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