The app, which has been available on Apple’s appstore for nine days, has already secured 14,000 downloads according to the bank which formally unveiled it today in Sydney. Billed as a “digital strategy launch” the app runs natively on iPads and has been designed to take advantage of the full range of functions on the tablet.
However at present it only offers a very cut down version of what is available on the bank’s online website, or through its mobile phone apps. For example, while it’s possible to view balances, transfer funds, and even toggle between personal and business accounts, it’s not possible to add new payees from the iPad app at present.
To launch the app Westpac had transformed a room at the Museum of Contemporary Art into a modern living room, which is where the bank believes most tablet-based banking will take place, between the hours of 6pm and 10pm. Clive Whincup, the bank’s chief information officer, described the iPad app as Westpac’s “digital front door.”
The front door however remained firmly closed this morning as multiple attempts to demonstrate the app or allow journalists to trial it were plagued by technology problems.
According to Jason Yetton, group executive for retail and business banking, the move to mobile banking, on either smartphones or tablets represented a “very material change” for banking. Certainly it might significantly change the form factor of a bank branch in the future.
Where a typical branch today might command 350-400 square meters of real estate, a branch of the future, which was “digitally enabled” with tellers equipped with devices such as iPads might only need 200 square meters of space according to Mr Yetton.
Asked whether Westpac had any plans to develop apps to allow people to do their banking from within social networks, Mr Yetton said that there was “quite a lot of reluctance from customers.” While developing such an application would not be technically difficult, the bank would tread cautiously with regard to social networks he said.