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ANZ Bank showed off its new technology yesterday – what it has now and what it is planning. It’s mobility everywhere.

ANZ Bank’s CEO Phil Chronican has taken journalists and analysts through the bank’s vision of the future, demonstrating the technologies and applications which he believes will take it to the next stage of customer interaction.

He started by quoting the late futurist Roy Amara: “We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run” (a quote often mistakenly attributed to Bill Gates).

“The Internet is an outstanding example. As household access to the Internet took off in the 1990s, hundreds of businesses were formed to take advantage of this new technology. Most of them failed to live up to their founders’ vision and we all witnessed the dot.com boom and bust.

“Now over a decade has passed and the world is being transformed in ways that Silicon Valley couldn’t have dreamt about in 1999. What has allowed the Internet to be so revolutionary is a combination of a number of technology related changes:

  • Much greater bandwidth available at lower and lower prices
  • The growth in mobile data capability and widespread use of Wi-Fi.
  • Increased analytical capability allows customer specific analytics
  • Widespread access to the Global Positioning System network allowing location specific services
  • A massive and ongoing uplift in the number of internet enabled devices.

Las year ANZ launched its ‘Banking on Australia’ program, outlining how digital and mobile technologies would continue to grow in importance. The demonstration, in ANZ’s Sydney offices, was intended to show how the bank is turning that vision into reality.

“Although customers’ banking needs remain constant, technology is changing the way they want to interact with their bank. Our customers have told us they expect to grow their usage of digital banking channels in the future, with the largest growth in tablet and mobile.

“But digital is not an ‘either/or.’ Despite the popularity of digital services, customers continue to interact with banks across all channels – while digital is critical for more routine transactions, customers tend to prefer face-to-face for life’s big decisions.

“Our customers don’t think about channels. They expect a seamless, personal experience at every touch point with ANZ - regardless of whether they choose to interact with us online today and in a branch tomorrow. So a key element of ‘Banking on Australia’ is also about transforming our distribution channels, simplifying our processes and giving our people access to insights, tools and training to free them up to spend more time with customers having the right conversations.”

Chronican said ANZ has invested more than 170,000 hours into training retail and commercial frontline staff to focus on more complex customer needs, and that I has so far introduced 74 new-look sales-focused branches and 43 video conference facilities. “As a result, branch sales have increased 7% in 2013, even though we experienced a 5% drop in branch traffic.

“In our corporate and commercial business we’ve deployed 1,200 mobile tablets to our front line bankers, featuring 8 new apps to bring the whole of ANZ’s capabilities to our customers. Our bankers have also received super regional training, supporting a 45% increase in cross border referrals from Australia.”

The demonstration comprised a number of short video and presentations on new and prototype technologies – electronic transaction banking the new version of the GoMoney mobile app to be introduced next year, the FastPay mobile merchant app, biometrics (‘my voice is my password’) and ANZ’s Transactive Global, which Chronican described as ‘GoMoney for Corporate’.

“We are leveraging our super regional advantage to  bring the whole of ANZ to our customers. This is flowing into our financial performance, helping us acquire and retain more customers and deepen our relationships with them.”

It was a slick presentation, and a good insight into the way technology is transforming the banking experience. Chronican is justifiably proud of what the ANZ is doing, and the bank has done a great job of presenting its technology achievements.

But it is not alone. All of Australia’s Big Four banks are global leaders in technology, as well as being amongst the world’s most stable and profitable financial institutions. NAB too us through a similar exercise recently, and Westpac and CBA are introducing similar technologies.

Technology is transforming many industries, banking more than most. It is an ideal industry – it has the money to invest, it has all of us as customers, it operates in real time and at the core of our lives.

Competition is good.

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Graeme Philipson

Graeme Philipson is senior associate editor at iTWire and editor of sister publication CommsWire. He is also founder and Research Director of Connection Research, a market research and analysis firm specialising in the convergence of sustainable, digital and environmental technologies. He has been in the high tech industry for more than 30 years, most of that time as a market researcher, analyst and journalist. He was founding editor of MIS magazine, and is a former editor of Computerworld Australia. He was a research director for Gartner Asia Pacific and research manager for the Yankee Group Australia. He was a long time IT columnist in The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, and is a recipient of the Kester Award for lifetime achievement in IT journalism.

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