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He said that it was possible to achieve savings of up to 40 per cent in the cloud, and that some cloud based platforms could be rolled out for a tenth of the cost “of trying to do that internally with our own capital.” He said that where it used to take eight weeks and cost thousands of dollars to provision a server on premises for applications such as test and development, that now took 8 minutes and cost 25 cents.

Mr Harte exhorted other enterprises to “stop hiding behind all the old excuses. The faster people get into it…the more stable the digital economy will be.”

 While CBA has invested heavily on its back end, it has not neglected the front end, and today announced that it had also revised its Kaching app for Android devices with a new version being launched in mid December. What is still missing however is the Near Field Communications capability which would allow Android phone users to make contactless payments.

CBA has introduced an NFC enabled case for iPhones which allows contactless payment - the bank is also planning to release a new  NFC case for the iPhone 5 – but no such case has been released for Android phones – largely because of the multiple different form factors of Android phones.

However many Android mobiles feature NFC capability. While Westpac and the ANZ have announced trials of contactless payment systems using Android phones – in most cases involving writing bank data to the secure element of the SIM card, Mr Lark said that he was hopeful of working with phone manufacturers to be able to have access to the NFC chip itself rather than using the SIM card which might tie customers to a particular telecommunications carrier.

Kelly Bayer Rosmarin, executive general manager for corporate banking solutions for CBA, also outlined two new business services which will be released in early 2013: SmartSign which will allow customers to remotely and digitally sign an application for asset financing, and CommBiz Mobile.

SmartSign is backed by additional security provided through a biometric voice print capture – the bank’s first foray into voice biometrics. Ms Bayer Rosmarin said the voice print would help authenticate the user – and could also be used as evidence in case of dispute.

The bank also provided an update regarding its point of sale initiatives.  It has now made the Leo portable point of sale device widely available, with the tablet Albert device still slated for release in mid 2013.

Ms Bayer Rosmarin claimed that 500 businesses and 700 developers had signed up to use the Pi development platform which the bank has selected as its point of sale platform for the future.

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Beverley Head

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Beverley Head is a Sydney-based freelance writer who specialises in exploring how and why technology changes everything - society, business, government, education, health. Beverley started writing about the business of technology in London in 1983 before moving to Australia in 1986. She was the technology editor of the Financial Review for almost a decade, and then became the newspaper's features editor before embarking on a freelance career, during which time she has written on a broad array of technology related topics for the Sydney Morning Herald, Age, Boss, BRW, Banking Day, Campus Review, Education Review, Insite and Government Technology Review. Beverley holds a degree in Metallurgy and the Science of Materials from Oxford University and a deep affection for things which are shaken not stirred.

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