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Tuesday, 13 May 2014 15:16

St. George banks on smartwatch, iBeacon technology Featured

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Aussie bank St .George has joined both the wearable tech and Internet of Things crazes, in announcing smartwatch compatibility for its customers along with iBeacon trials within its retail branch network.

The bank described both initiatives as Australian-firsts for banks, and said they were part of providing customers with a personalised, tailored banking ecosystem.

Currently being trialled in three Sydney branches, St. George's iBeacon means whenever a customer enters a branch they receive a welcome message and tailored information directly to their iPhone from an iPad in the branch. Customers can then either respond to the message or cancel the interaction.

St. George said the purpose of the trial is to "gain valuable feedback from customers to ensure the service genuinely meets their needs and enhances their experience with St. George."

“The future of business will be in the ability to anticipate customer’s needs, understand what matters to them and act on that knowledge to surprise and delight them, George Frazis, CEO of St. George Banking Group said.

"Our investment in iBeacon will help us to achieve that – and it has the potential to dramatically change the service experience in Australian banking.

“The iBeacon trial forms part of a broader investment in our retail branches that will see more digital technology and increased staff expertise to make banking simpler, easier and faster for our customers."

St.George CIO, Dhiren Kulkarni commented: “St.George is a pioneer in banking technology in Australia, being the first bank in Australia to launch internet banking in 1995 and mobile banking in 2009. The launch of iBeacon is the next step in that innovation evolution.

“Our trial with iBeacon is the first step in the process to explore how closely we can integrate the technology into our branches to deliver a new level of customer service. Once we have completed the trial, we will review the results and plan how we can roll-out nationally,” he said.

Meanwhile the latest St.George mobile banking app for Android devices will give customers access to account balances and directions, via GPS technology, to their nearest ATM or branch from the screen of their smartwatch.

SMS alerts and emails with details of key deposits and withdraws can also be displayed on the watch.

Initially available only on the Sony SmartWatch 2, the bank's Head of Mobile Travis Tyler told iTWire the capability will also be extended to other smartwatch devices, including Samsung and Pebble later in 2014.

"t came about when the first smartwatches came out, and we started to look at how we could bring this to life," Tyler said.

"Obviously we had a look at the Gear, the Pebble and the Sony SmartWatch 2, and the Sony SmartWatch was in the best position for us to go with first. We thought 'what are the interactions our customers do that will be most relevant in this space, and fit the right risk profile as well.

"It's paired to the phone, so if I lose my watch I don't risk losing any money from my bank account. And the most exciting thing is this is the first time we've been able to work with smartwatches - it's the start of wearables, and for us it comes back to being part of our customer's personal ecosystem. We really want to take the effort out of their day-to-day banking."

With growing interest in wearable devices, St.George has also been trialling a mobile banking application for Google Glass, which will be ready for release following the launch of the smart glasses.

The latest St.George Bank Android app with capability for the Sony SmartWatch 2 can be downloaded from the Google Play store, here.

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